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Everyone Is Dunking on Mark Zuckerberg About His Facebook Congressional Hearing

Group catharsis.

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the second day of testimony before Congress by Zuckerberg, 33, after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign.

Who would have guessed that a guy who dipped his feet in violating people’s privacy for a Hot or Not knockoff in college and faced a disciplinary hearing for it at the time—despite how much he’d like to pretend it’s not at all related—would wind up answering for the same lack of (or willful ignorance of) foresight in front of the United States Congress, on the much larger scale of a global userbase?

Yes, I’m talking about Mark Zuckerberg, who has now completed day 2 of a Congressional hearing about the havoc wreaked by Facebook controlling how a large portion of the world experiences the internet, among other things. (Watch day one here and day two here.) Facebook has long drawn the ire of the internet, first in general jokes about people’s behavior on social media in the early years, and then, as they company’s power expanded, on through criticism of their stranglehold over what many people are exposed to on the internet, user data policies, hidden psychological experiments, and eventual part in the dissemination of disinformation that led to the election of Donald Trump—including selling ads to Russian entities interested in sowing discord among U.S. citizens.

So, Zuckerberg headed to Capitol Hill to personally represent his company amid public outcry over Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data, ostensibly to take responsibility and work for change. Although, he’s been apologizing for this kind of thing for over a decade with no end in sight—it really just seems to get worse—and he keeps telling Congress that his “team” will have to get back to them on subjects that become uncomfortable. And as he has sat there answering questions, everyone else has been venting their frustrations.

Zuckerberg was asked to name Facebook’s top—or any—competitor, and he struggled to do so, because there really isn’t one. Everyone was longing for the days of MySpace, even though Facebook’s reach now extends there in some form, as well.

He also got a lot of attention for the seat cushion he was propped up on, given that it really seemed like a decision driven by optics that may have backfired a little.

He also left his notes open on the table where anyone could see them, which might not have been the best choice with all those cameras around—especially when everyone’s mad at you over data privacy.

Twitch’s live stream of the event featured its own roast of Zuckerberg, but he wasn’t the only target of mockery at the hearing. Those doing the questioning were also easy marks, many of them having received donations from Facebook, and also not exactly being tech experts themselves.

That’s not to say there weren’t smart lawmakers or informed questions there, but it was hard not to get the feeling that our future is more in Zuckerberg’s hands than it is theirs, thanks to their colleagues’ understanding of what’s going on. That’s scary, considering how important all of this ultimately is, as absurd as that seems.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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