In many hours of testimony, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did his best to address lawmakers' questions about data privacy and, surprisingly, how Facebook works. Senators and Members of Congress asked questions about texting, about how the company makes money without a subscription model (Zuckerberg: "We sell ads."), whether Facebook owns users' data, whether Facebook sells data, how many "data categories" Facebook collects, and so on. This video compilation does not reflect well on our lawmakers.
Zuckerberg himself seemed surprised by some of the questions and wasn't fully prepared to answer them. A reporter captures a photo of Zuckerberg's notes, which are what we would expect, but it's fun (in a voyeuristic way) to see them.
On the second day of testimony, questions improved, and many focused on Facebook's treatment of conservative political views. These were fair questions, and Zuckerberg admitted they had made mistakes in screening some content as inappropriate. But several representatives seemed to ask similar questions about this and about the consent agreement with the FCC, as if the question hadn't been asked just moments earlier.
In a New York Times Daily Podcast, reporters discussed Zuckerberg's continued references to starting Facebook in his dorm room. They believed the strategy was a good one for demonstrating his humanity (emotional appeal) but was potentially damaging for his credibility because it reminded lawmakers that he is only 33 years old. A seat chair, which internet trolls called a "booster seat," didn't help.
Wall Street responded well to Zuckerberg's testimony, with the stock price rising both days.
- What's your view of Zuckerberg's testimony? Watch as much as you can tolerate.
- Should lawmakers have a better understanding of Facebook? What is their level of responsibility?
- Identify a few specific questions and Zuckerberg's answers. What leadership character dimensions does he demonstrate, and how could he have improved?
- Watching the testimony, how would you assess his authenticity? Do you know more about him as a person? Should we?