I just watched the entire testimony between Mark Zuckerberg and a number of United States Senators in Washington live. Nearly six hours of it. I have some thoughts. I know this is a huge departure from the usual ‘day in the life’ posts I usually write, and I don’t plan on doing this on anything like a regular basis.
Like I said though – I have some thoughts.
Firstly, Mark Zuckerberg came across very well, and defended Facebook against both biased and unfair arguments very successfully indeed. He also came across as by far the most intelligent, fair, and even-handed person in the room. He spoke eloquently, accurately, and didn’t express frustration at any of the numerous times he was spoken over, cut off, or incorrectly quoted.
Secondly, I was stunned at the level of ignorance, lack of preparation, and unprofessionalism of many of the senators that fielded questions. In many cases, if I was a resident of the United States being represented by the senators in question, I would have been thoroughly ashamed.
I realise I’m making these observations from a somewhat privileged position – I have a level knowledge and experience of the subject matter that perhaps few do – I’ve been working as a professional software and web developer for over twenty years. You might expect elected representatives to educate themselves somewhat before asking a question though.
I lost count of the times senators repeated the same questions (no doubt because the vast majority only made the effort to be present to ask their own question). I also grew frustrated with the number of senators that asked obviously pre-prepared questions that had little or nothing to do with the subject of the hearing. Ted Cruz was perhaps the worst offender, ranting like a child about how unfair it is that you cannot force social media to promote whatever you want. He was unexpectedly entertaining though, even if he didn’t realise it himself.
Anyway. Enough of this nonsense. I’m not American, so I have a different collection of clowns to worry about governing the world in which I live. I have perhaps made it to the end of today with a very much strengthened opinion of Facebook though – which is interesting in a way, because I came away from the movie ‘The Social Network’ with a very much strengthened view of Mark Zuckerberg, even though many other people seemed to think it was a hatchet-job of sorts.
Maybe one day – when social media has evolved further – we will look back at these times, and realise how good a job the likes of Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Google did. Sure, they made mistakes – and they will continue to make mistakes – but by and large, they are making the world smaller, more connected, and most importantly better.