This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before members of Congress, splitting his visit into two days of interrogation. There were expected questions about the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal, whether Facebook has become too big and could be considered a monopoly, and how to better regulate the platform.
Less expected were the strange and somewhat rambling moments throughout the 12 hours of testimony, while members of Congress grappled with the legitimately complicated technology they questioned. Sometimes lawmakers relied on clumsy metaphors, revealing anecdotes and cheesy jokes. These are some of the strangest examples during Zuckerberg's testimony in Washington, DC
I love chocolate
Before launching into your question, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) invoked his love for chocolate. "I'm communicating with my friends on Facebook, and I say I love a certain type of chocolate, and suddenly, I start receiving chocolate ads, what if I do not want to receive those commercials?"
Palantir = "Stanford Analytica "
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-IN) tried to coin a new nickname for Palantir. Cantwell told Zuckerberg that Palantir, a data analysis company founded by Peter Thiel, is sometimes referred to as "Stanford Analytica." She asked him: "Do you agree?"
"Senator, I have not heard that," he replied after a few uncomfortable seconds of silence.
Cantwell made a side reference to Cambridge Analytica, the firm that misappropriated Facebook user data through a personality questionnaire. But the parallel between the two is vague, and the joke did not reach the conclusion.
"Senator, we publish ads"
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) used his few minutes with Zuckerberg to determine if Facebook will always be free to use. But it was his delivery that made viewers wonder if he understood how Facebook works and generates revenue. "So, how do you sustain a business model in which users do not pay for their service?"
"Senator, we publish ads," Zuckerberg replied, before breaking into a small smile.
"I see," Hatch replied. "That's great".
Senators still love Facebook
Several senators tried to take advantage of the opportunity to have an audience with the CEO of Facebook. "My 13-year-old son, Charlie, is dedicated to Instagram, so he'll want to be sure that I mention him while I was here with you," said Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).
"I have 4,900 friends on my Facebook page, I eliminate those who hate and keep space for family members and real friends on my personal page," Senator Thom Tillis (Republican from North Carolina) told Zuckerberg. "I am a proud member of Facebook, I just received a message from my sister about this National Brother's Day."
Senator. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) asked Zuckerberg to bring some fiber the next time he visited rural West Virginia. He clarified that some rural areas of his state lacked good Internet connectivity. The request created an opportunity for Zuckerberg to refer to his Internet Free Basics initiative, turning the session into an unexpected marketing opportunity. On the second day of Zuckerberg's testimony, several congressmen jumped in the same car, asking the CEO to contact them to provide opportunities similar to their districts.
Why Facebook banned the day of appreciation of Chick-fil-A?  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) used his time to question Zuckerberg about why Facebook has a prejudice against conservatives. He wrote down the evidence of an article by Gizmodo in 2016: "Facebook initially closed the page of Thanksgiving of Chick-Fil-A … and recently blocked the followers of Trump, the Diamond page and Silk with 1.2 million followers of Facebook after determining that their content and brand were "unsafe for the community".
Many on Twitter criticized Cruz for focusing on a chicken's Facebook page instead of Cambridge Analytica or any other important topic at hand. Cruz continued to ask Zuckerberg about the possibility that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was fired because of his political opinions. (Zuckerberg denied the claim.)
The conspiracy "Facebook secretly listens to you"
Members of Congress pressed Zuckerberg on the common suspicion that Facebook listens passively to its users through their phones. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) was more direct in asking this question in a yes or no format.
Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), however, chose to illustrate the example using his son, who likes to buy costumes and then saw advertisements for costumes online.
"If you are not listening to us on the phone, who is it? And do you have specific contracts with those companies that will provide information that is acquired verbally?" Bucshon asked today.
"I understand that many of these cases you are talking about are a coincidence," Zuckerberg replied. .
how I knew facebook my white boys who live in a big American city and have a good job that they would be interested in costumes
WHO ARE WIRETAPPING US
– tc (@chillmage) 11 April 2018
How would you like it if your data were infringed, Mark?
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) turned the tables on Zuckerberg yesterday by guiding him in an unusual line of questions. "Mr. Zuckerberg, would you feel comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?" Durbin asked Zuckerberg, causing the latter to freeze before reaching a "no."
you sent a message to someone, week, could you share with us the names of the people to whom you sent a message? Durbin added and Zuckerberg replied, "No, I probably would not choose to do that publicly here." It made us understand why Facebook users are concerned about a data breach and an invasion of privacy.
Mark Zuckerberg was questioned on Tuesday about Facebook's current information, privacy and information scandals.
A line of outstanding questions came from Senator Dick Durbin, who challenged Zuckerberg about his comfort level with his own personal information.
See the exchange: pic.twitter.com/715BoUdHP4
– Vox (@voxdotcom) April 11, 2018
Facemash receives a mention
Instead of focusing on Facebook Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) stepped back in time and decided to confront Zuckerberg about Facemash, the application that the CEO created 15 years ago, before creating Facebook. "What was Facemash, and is it still working?"
"No … there was a movie about this, or he said it was about this," Zuckerberg responded today, referring to 2010 The Social Network . "It was not clear, and the claim that Facemash was somehow connected to the development of Facebook is not, it was not like that."
Long continued to probe Zuckerberg on Facemash. "Is it just a coincidence? The timing was the same, right? Is it just a coincidence?" The congressman continued. "Do you put pictures of two women and decide which is the best, most attractive of the two?"
The conversation clearly bothered Zuckerberg, before Long commented that the CEO had come a long way from Facemash.