Extraordinary

I watched Zuckerberg testify for a short time on Tuesday and then listened as I did some work. A couple of things came to mind, a couple of things struck me:
  • He still looks and acts like a rich college kid.
  • Has he ever worn a tie before?
  • Does he really expect we'll believe him?
I can't shake the image of his haughty outrage shortly after the November 2016 election when he said that it was ridiculous to think that Facebook had anything to do with the election. He's been backpedalling ever since. And it makes me think that, in fact, he still was in the mentality of a group of guys in rented house madly coding and re-inventing the platform initially designed, lest we forget, to let Harvard students rate women. Yes, that's true. It was called Facemash and it pulled photos from Harvard sites and set up a rating system for the "hottest" women on campus.

I was surprised at how many times he didn't know the answer to questions and said "my people" will get back to you. Like he's too important to answer the question of a U.S. Senator. 

If he wanted to reassure me, he didn't. 

He is a smooth talker and got some pretty easy questions from Senators who really didn't seem to understand Facebook or the Internet. Sen. Orin Hatch, for instance, openly wondered about his business plan given that he doesn't charge for the services. "Er," Zuckerberg said, "we sell ads." Duh.

One Senator asked him how he was going to verify people who seek to buy political ads. Zuckerberg responded, by requiring them to use their real names and by determining where they were located. The Senator, at least, asked whether Facebook would be able to stop a Russian operative calling from, say, a company, say in Delaware. His answer, of course, was "no." Hmm.

Another asked him if he's reveal what hotel he was staying at, or whom he had exchanged messages with over the last week. Zuckerberg balked. "That's the point of these hearings," the Senator pointed out -- privacy.

Perhaps I'm biased, but I just don't see how Facebook, as it has been set up, can or wants to actually protect all of our personal data. Or do anything differently. And, while Zuckerberg tried to make out that Facebook is NOT a monopoly, what's the alternative for what it does?

And then, of course, is the question as to whether we care. I do. I'm old school. I do care. And, frankly, I think Facebook has become more for us old farts than it is for you. But that said, as an old fart, I really am used to much more privacy in my life. I'm used to having control over my habits, my likes, what I purchase, where I go, who I see, who I talk with. Email works for me. So does texting. 

Yet, it is nice to see what people I haven't seen for a while are up to. It amuses me. It makes me feel like I'm in touch with them. And, I realize, that's the big illusion. I don't have a substantive exchange with them. Nor do I know what really is happening in their lives. And, maybe, I don't call them as often. Lord knows, I never write letters any more.

 I don't have any answers.

But I'd sure like to know what you all think.