11 April 2018

Smug android half-answers questions about his internet empire

StockSnap_WBWKY1FQ2IOne thing’s for sure from yesterday’s senate hearing: Zuckerberg’s team has a lot of people to get back to on some of the finer points of Facebook. There were mixed results from the questioning: on one hand, we now know how little US lawmakers actually know about Facebook and the internet in general, which makes for fabulous memes. On the other hand, when an occasionally incisive question was asked, it was met with the standard ‘I’ll have my team get back to you on that.’ None of this bodes well for anyone hoping to be protected by balanced and informed legislation that puts users first.

For example, when Sen. Roger Wicker asked if the company can track users even when they’ve logged out, Zuckerberg replied: ‘Senator, I want to make sure I get this accurate so it would probably be better to have my team follow up afterwards.’ When pressed, he responded: ‘I know that people use cookies on the internet, and that you can probably correlate activity between, um, sessions. We do that for a number of reasons, including security and including measuring ads to make sure that the ad experiences are the most effective.’

That’s not really a clear response. If you’ve been paying attention to this topic in the past, you’ll know that this is a recurring issue, and tracking users’ activity has vast implications for privacy. Not to mention the reason Zuckerberg was there in the first place: his firm literally allowed a third party to hoover up user’s details and use that information to serve adverts that may have changed the outcome of elections.

So for all the laughter around some of the questions that were posed and the resultant memes – which are admittedly pretty funny – let’s not forget; Facebook’s conduct has had seismic implications for major world events.

What’s your view on the Senate hearing?