It was a monumental event when Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of social media giant Facebook, faced more than 44 legislators, that amounts to almost half of the US Senate.
The much-awaited Senate hearing was to interrogate and question Zuckerberg on the recently unveiled Cambridge Analytica data breach where almost 87 million users’ data was used by this firm allegedly during the Trump presidential campaign to gather positive votes in favour of it.
To be honest, from fake news to privacy invasion, leaks and more, Facebook was just waiting for something like this to happen.
However, the almost 5 hours long Facebook hearing from the Joint Senate Committee and Judiciary committees did remind us of another scene, although on a far smaller scale from the movie The Social Network, made on Mark Zuckerberg’s life.
The scene would be the Harvard Interview Board scene when Jesse Eisenberg playing Zuckerberg faced the committee on similar charges of data invasion and more.
Let us take a look at some comparisons we drew from both of these ‘hearings’:
1. Zuckerberg’s Arrogance:
Although hidden extremely well under layers of respect and obvious meekness, I could not help but notice that a similar arrogance and nonchalance was present in both the movie scene and the real-life hearing.
It’s eerie to see how similar the voice of Jesse Eisenberg and the real Mark Zuckerberg is. And not to mention, they even share ‘BERG’ in their surnames.
The only difference was that in the movie, Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg was arrogant only about his product, knowledge and one-upping the college authorities, the real-life one was arrogant about his preparedness.
The calm and collected way Zuckerberg was answering, along with starting the testimony with powerful statements like “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake. And I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here” clearly showed that he had been preparing for quite some time with a good team of lawyers and more.
Even his comment when asked if he wanted a break from the questioning was “We can do a few more,” with an impish grin.
2. The Senate Knows Nothing:
Just like how the incompetence of the college security team was shown in not getting to Zuckerberg in time, you also see the Senators fumbling around having little to no clue on how exactly Facebook works.
It was extremely clear with the questions that many Senators had prepared that they had little knowledge about how the platform worked and it only resulted in wasting time during the hearing.
Where important much-needed questions could have been asked, ones like ‘how facebook earns without charging users’ or ‘whether Facebook sells user data’, it instead allowed Zuckerberg to evade the more serious topics.
For the selling of user data, he very cleverly bypassed it by saying “we do not sell data to advertisers. What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach. And then we do the placement.”
While it is true they don’t directly sell the data but does trade it off to advertisers who select the target audience they want to reach. In fact, as per sources, it is estimated that Facebook made about $40 billion last year in advertising revenue.
Whether Facebook knows a lot about us or the advertisers, for a normal user, it’s one and the same thing.
3. The Punishment:
Both in the movie and in real life, Zuckerberg’s actions created a lot of furore from something they created.
The only difference being that the movie’s hearing was on a much smaller scale, limited only to the students of the university, while the real life is impacting millions.
Where in the movie, he got only 6 months of academic probation, this time around the punishment might be a little bit more severe. With more regulations and supervision being imposed on Facebook that sort of contrasts with the core idea of the platform.
And if you still do not agree with my comparison with the movie scene, then the only probable thing that happened is that this is not the real Mark Zuckerberg.
As this meme below clearly shows, we might have found the truth after all.
Image Credits: Google Images