Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is facing yet another interrogation, and yesterday’s line of questioning from Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was truly a sight to be seen.
Zuckerberg faced the US House of Representatives financial service committee on Wednesday in a hearing about Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, Libra. “In order for us to make decisions about Libra, I think we need to kind of dig into your past behaviour and Facebook’s past behaviour with respect to our democracy,” Ocasio-Cortez said to Zuckerberg.
AOC started by asking Zuckerberg when he became aware of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, to which he responded, “I’m not sure of the exact time.”
“You don’t know? This was the largest data scandal with respect to your company that had catastrophic impacts on the 2016 election. You don’t know?” AOC said.
AOC went on to ask Zuckerberg about political advertising on Facebook and whether it was ever fact-checked, using targeted advertising of the incorrect election date to “black zip codes” as an example.
Zuckerberg said the platform would remove content that would incite violence or voter suppression, but AOC continued offering examples of potentially harmful and misleading political advertisements. “I mean, if you’re not fact-checking political advertisements, I’m trying to understand the bounds here – what’s fair game?” she said.
“Do you see a problem here? With a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?” she asked Zuckerberg. When he attempted to respond, she asked “so you won’t take down lies, or you will take down lies? It’s a pretty simple yes or no.”
Zuckerberg said it depended on the context, and when AOC tried to ask him another question he said he couldn’t remember what she’d asked.
Yikes. It’s pretty hard to watch Zuckerberg panicking with such intensity while being questioned by AOC, but on the other hand, why can’t he provide more concrete answers to her questions?
It’s been over a year since it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had been harvesting the personal data of millions of peoples’ Facebook profiles without their consent and using it for political advertising purposes. Surely, if you wanted the committee to back Libra, you’d have a better explanation for these prior scandals.
One thing we can all learn from this is that you should always come prepared to a meeting with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.