If the Mark Zuckenberg aka the Zuck / Facebook hearings taught us anything recently, it is this: It may be time to upgrade our Washington representation.
When Lindsey Graham asked the Zuck, “Is Twitter the same as what you do?” We knew we were in trouble.
The obvious age or knowledge gap between Zuckerberg and the senators, whose average age of 62, was widely noted on Twitter. They just couldn’t seem to get to the point or have meaningful follow-up questions when the Zuck talked about algorithms and AI to them.
“Wrap it up, Grandpa Grassley,” tweeted one user to the Judiciary Committee chairman, who was deep into his first term in the Senate when the Zuck was born in 1984.
The senators questions were largely rudimentary, with some calling the 5-hour hearing “Social Media 101.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch asked the Zuck how Facebook made money if it didn’t charge users for its services. “Senator, we run ads,” he responded smilingly.
And what was the point of this hearing again? Oh yeah, Russian collusion. It wasn’t as if the senators could easily forget about the Russian meddling, someone dressed as a Russian troll watched from the audience wearing a pointy, blue-and-green wig almost the whole time.
People on social media found it pretty ridiculous that our lawmakers in power who have the power to regulate this technology have absolutely no idea how it works.
But then again we’re told age doesn’t matter. But, what if it does?
The Zuck told senators that the giant social media company is in “an arms race” with Russia and other foreign adversaries that seek to exploit the platform to influence U.S. elections.
Zuck told them Facebook is getting better at using artificial intelligence to identify fake Facebook accounts that may try to interfere in elections and spread misinformation. Russian companies with ties to the Kremlin used fake accounts to try to sow division among U.S. voters in the 2016 election, according to Facebook.
Not to worry! Facebook and Twitter have signed on to the Honest Ads Act, a bill that would require social media publicly disclose who pays for political ads the same as newspapers and broadcast stations do now. Sens. Amy Klobouchar, D-Minn., Mark Warner, D-Va., and John McCain, R-AZ are the sponsors of the bill.
Feeling any safer yet?