Facebook doesn’t seem any closer to data privacy regulation, much less getting broken up, after CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s two-day visit to Capitol Hill than before he came. That’s why Facebook stock rose so sharply during Zuckerberg’s testimony to the Senate and House. Investors saw the same thing everyone did: A smart, if slightly robotic, corporate chieftain easily answering or swatting away questions from tech-illiterate politicians. If Congress has only a tenuous grasp of how the social media platform’s ad-driven business model works, it’s probably not very likely Democrats and Republicans can agree on significant new rules constraining it anytime soon.
But as Team Facebook analyzes their boss’s performance, they should give special focus to his questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Cruz used his five minutes to grill Zuckerberg about his concern that “Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship.” Among the examples Cruz cited: Facebook suppressing conservative stories from trending news in 2016, temporarily shutting down a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day page in 2012, and blocking the Facebook page of President Trump supporters and video bloggers Diamond and Silk.
Zuckerberg didn’t specifically address Cruz’s examples of bias. And while conceding that Facebook’s Silicon Valley home was indeed “an extremely left-leaning place,” Zuckerberg also emphasized that he was “very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas.”
Now to many tech reporters covering the hearings, the exchange seemed like a distraction from more important issues like privacy and Russian meddling during the 2016 election. And rather than follow up on Cruz’s line of questioning, some merely dismissed it as Cruz trying to avoid the issue of his 2014 re-election campaign’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica. As the tech website Gizmodo put it, “Rather than discuss the $5.8 million Cruz’s campaign paid to a data firm that used the stolen Facebook information of 87 million people, Cruz wanted to insinuate that Zuckerberg is waging some sort of war on Christmas.”
But many on the right saw Cruz’s questioning as completely relevant and perhaps the highlight of the hearings. The Federalist, a Trumpy conservative site, rejoiced that “Ted Cruz savaged Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s tendency to shut down and silence conservatives and conservative ideas.” Another site, ConservativeHQ, called Cruz the “star of the show” who “nailed Zuckerberg’s liberal bias.” And even a cursory look at Facebook itself saw many right-leaning users expressing similar opinions.
Clearly Zuckerberg was not prepared to answer Cruz’s charges. But when asked about Diamond and Silk the next day in the House hearing, Zuckerberg was ready. He called the situation an “enforcement error.” (After Zuckerberg’s Senate testimony the day before, Facebook said it initially labeled Diamond and Silk content as “unsafe” before reconsidering.) That response earned a large font, all-cap headline from Breitbart: “ZUCK BEFORE HOUSE: SAYS NO BIAS. CONSERVATIVES NOT CENSORED, JUST ‘ENFORCEMENT ERROR’ … “
The “techlash” on the right against Big Tech mostly isn’t about data privacy or foreign powers weaponizing …read more
Source:: The Week – Tech