WASHINGTON, D.C .— Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg survived a withering barrage of questions from nearly 100 lawmakers during 10 hours of Congressional hearings this week about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the social media platform’s data gathering, use and protections.
But many House and Senate committee members still did not get a chance to ask a number of questions they had. A sample:
· “Mr. Zuckerberg, I’m hearing a lot about this Facebook thing, and understand you have something to do with it. Could you tell the committee what it is?”
· “As a follow-up, I’ve also been hearing about this new ‘www global interwebs’ where they say I can send letters and pictures of my kids and cat instantly to people anywhere in the world from my computer or my telephone. Could you tell me what that is, how it’s possible, and whether Facebook plans to use the interwebs? And if so, how?”
· “I’ve developed a sudden irresistable craving for borscht, and I don’t even like cabbage or beets. Does that mean Russians are hacking my Facebook?”
· “On my birthday, I got a bunch of ‘happy birthday’ posts, including from people I haven’t spoken to in years, and some I don’t even remember. That’s nice but how did they know it was my birthday?”
· “As a follow-up, do I have to thank and send birthday wishes to everyone who sent me one?”
· “I used to be appalled by Trump. Suddenly I was convinced he’s been the best, most effective president in history and the whole investigation is a witch hunt. Was my Facebook hacked by Cambridge Analytica?”
· “As a follow-up, I understand that Cambridge Analytica can use Facebook to rig elections. Do you know how I can get a hold of them?”
· “You’re a Millennial, so maybe you can help. I keep hearing the words ‘gif’ and ‘meme’ a lot, and also ‘trolls’ and ‘bots’. And also, ‘fleek’, ‘cray’, ‘bae’, ‘woke’, ‘drake’, ‘jay-z’, ‘beyoncé’ and ‘prius’. What do these words mean, and am I already too late?
· “I really like my old Blackberry, and I’m sticking to it because I like the keyboard, but I can’t seem to get Facebook on it. What am I doing wrong?”
· “I thought when Facebook bought Whole Foods, you promised the vegetables would be cheaper. My wife says they’re not. Could you explain why?”
· “A year ago I switched to Verizon Fios. My internet is still terrible. Should I switch back to Comcast? They’ll throw in free HBO.”
· “I put a little piece of black tape over the camera on my computer so the Russians and the Deep State can’t see me when I’m on Facebook. But now my Skype doesn’t work. Did Facebook do something?”
· “My constituents are being hit by cars and injured when crossing the street looking at Facebook on their phones. Some constituents are hitting pedestrians while looking at Facebook. How are you planning to address this growing danger?”
· “The other day my wife and I were arguing about something. A few minutes later a bunch of ads for divorce lawyers, moving companies, cosmetic surgery doctors and Match.com popped up on our Facebook. Were you listening to us? How much did you hear? Did she Google that stuff?”
· “My kids tell me I should stop using the eggplant and peach emojis when I Facebook them, but they won’t tell me why. Could you explain?”
· “The computer in my Congressional office won’t let me look at the same stuff I can on my home computer when my family is asleep. Why is that?”
· “I really enjoyed your performance in ‘The Social Network’. But frankly you were not my favorite Lex Luthor in ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ And in ‘Now You See Me’, you play one of the illusionists who pull off bank heists. What I want to know, Mr. Eisenberg, you play a lot of bad characters. How much are they really you?”
· “Could you share with the committee any and all evidence, however weak, circumstantial or even concocted, that we could stitch together to justify two years of hearings, and spend seven million dollars in taxpayer money, to convince millions of your members that Hillary Clinton used Facebook in a criminal way and should be locked up? The Benghazi investigation was inconclusive, which proves her guilt, but we need a new Clinton scandal. Just to be clear, we’re begging you.”
· “When the IT guys come to fix my computer, I don’t understand a word they’re saying, even when they talk to me very slowly like I’m a child. Like you’re doing right now. It’s humiliating. I’m a United States Senator!”
· “Mr. Zuckerberg, let me apologize for my esteemed colleague and underscore my view that humiliation is part of the job of being a United States Senator. Let me also state for the record: While the misuse or abuse of personal private data does raise a number of serious questions, I for one don’t believe the Congress has any right or ability whatsoever to regulate Facebook in any way.
· “If it pleases the gentleman, let me add, sir, that as a true American success story, a billionaire with a multi-billion dollar company, you might be interested to know my reelection campaign has a number of fundraising events lined up before November that would welcome your participation. I hope we understand each other.”
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer