Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony or #Zuckerbowl, as it’s been affectionately named on Twitter, propelled into it’s second and final day yesterday. Zuckerberg received a more abrasive grilling from Congressional House leaders and he suggested follow ups at a much higher rate than he did yesterday. Congressional House leaders were hard pressed for information regarding Facebook’s user data misuse in the wake of Cambridge Analytica transgressions and they weren’t taking names.
This time around, Zuckerberg was more deflective in his responses and, on the other side of the chamber, the bipartisanship displayed during Tuesday’s hearing had all but dissipated. Early on, New Jersey representative Mr. Frank Pallone took a jab at the Republican party by saying,
“Republicans here in Congress continue to block or even repeal the few privacy protections we have. In this era of nonstop data breaches, last year Republicans eliminated existing privacy and data security protections at the FCC.”
Pallone admitted that his comments addressed towards the Republican party sounded critical and pessimistic but that he was frustrated over the lack of solutions forged in hearings. Pallone’s opening comments set an overall tone for the oncoming hearing that was less cordial and more combative.
About two hours into the hearing, Republicans had drifted off course and began to grill Zuckerberg and Facebook for supposedly suppressing conservative free speech. Zuckerberg found himself caught in the middle of two simultaneous hearings, one for the data breaches and another for conservative freedom of thought.
Naturally, the Facebook CEO struggled to stay on script as Republican congress leaders continued to accuse him of anti-conservative bias, particularly in relation to Diamond and Silk. Despite these divergences, including a particularly awkward grilling by Missouri Republican Billy Long (see below) Zuckerberg did reveal some interesting information regarding Cambridge Analytica and we have a clearer view of where Facebook may be headed in the wake of all these controversies.
“One thing that I think is important to understand overall is the sheer volume of content on Facebook makes it so no amount of people that we can hire will be enough to review all of the content. We need to rely on and build sophisticated AI tools that can help us flag certain content. We’re getting good in certain areas. Terrorist content for example, we now have AI systems that can identify and take down 99% of the Al Qaueda and ISIS related content in our system before a human even flags it to us. I think we need to do more of them.”
After a rough, and sometimes heated, ten hours of questioning, Zuckerbowl has officially come to an end. There may not be a clear winner but Zuckerberg has shown a strong willingness to cooperate with the government and congress leaders had a (mostly) cordial attitude towards his responses.
One concerning aspect of the hearing is that many congressmen and women demonstrated little knowledge on the way Facebook works. This could be a problem once regulatory discussions begin. Technology is evolving fast and if our congressional leaders want to impose regulations on Facebook, they need to be fluent in the world of social.
Zuckerberg did deflect in certain instances and he certainly has a lot of following up to do, but in general, we have a much clearer idea on how Facebook is planning to avoid future cases of data breaches.
Check out our recap of day one and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Do you think Facebook should be regulated?