So you think it is about data privacy?
On April 10 this week, as you all know, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has testified before Congress. Various senators asked him tough questions. He kept his straight face as best as possible while they were grilling him ferociously. Liberal senators kept asking questions about data privacy, while some of the conservative senators seemed to be more interested to learn about why Facebook is harder on conservative Facebook groups than liberal ones.
For example, Senator Ted Cruz tweeted this after the hearing: Today, I questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook’s past censorship of conservative groups. I asked if the same actions had ever been taken against liberal groups, but did not get an answer.
On the other hand, Senator Durbin from the Democratic Party asked a series of questions and hit the matter right on the spot. Their exchange was as follows: “Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?” “No.” Durbin continued, asking, “If you’ve messaged anybody this week, would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged? “Zuckerberg said “no, [he] would probably not choose to do that publicly here.”
All this was to make a point about users’ expectations for a right to privacy, Durbin said.
“I think that may be what this is all about,” said Durbin. “Your right to privacy and the limits of your right to privacy, and how much you give away in modern America in the name of, quote, connecting people around the world,” Durbin said.
There were many other memorable moments in Zuckerberg’s testimony. I am sure everyone had a best moment of the action. Whether it was some senator’s question or Zuckerberg’s robotic expressions or his acceptance of Facebook’s faults or his claim that they will do everything they can in order to stop violating the data privacy of individuals. However, if Facebook will remain free and if their income will be related to advertising revenue, then it is much easier said than done. As the famous saying goes, if a service is free, you are most likely the product, which means if you are able to use a service for “free,” some of your information is being traded behind doors.
That is one of the reasons why I think this whole theater about the congressional testimony was some sort of a cover up. I am sure the United States senators already knew what was possible and what was not possible for Facebook to do even before they began questioning him.
I think the real deal about the hearing is the fact that the U.S. government has Facebook by the balls now. Mark Zuckerberg is right where he does not want to be. He is in the pocket of the U.S. state.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that with this case, if Facebook was resisting the U.S. government about sharing the data of its users, it will not be resisting anymore. If Mark Zuckerberg had any leverage against the government, it is gone.
We heard from Zuckerberg and the other social media bosses time and again that the U.S. government wanted full access to user data and communications. Zuckerberg always denied any possibility of any governmental probes into the data Facebook holds.
I would like to ask the same question when the dust settles, because I believe that by the end of this, the U.S. will use the leverage against Facebook to access every type of data and communications they have on billions of accounts.