BOSTON (CBS) – Like Dorothy waking up from her tornado-induced touchdown in the Land of Oz, it surely had to dawn on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he was chased through the halls of Congress by a large media pack Tuesday that he’s not in the comfy bubble of Menlo Park anymore.
Forced out of his corporate cocoon, Zuckerberg now faces a Capitol Hill gauntlet of skeptical questioners during two days of testimony before congressional committees.
Questioners like Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), who told “Face the Nation” on Sunday: “We have a problem. Our promised digital utopia has minefields in it. Mr. Zuckerberg has not exhausted himself being forthcoming.”
In an advance copy of his opening statement Tuesday, Zuckerberg says “my top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together.” But with a 14-year-track record of privacy invasion and disregarding customer rights in tow, one question for the politicians is: Why should we trust you now when even your own tech industry peers don’t?
As Mozilla Chief Marketing Officer Jascha Kaykas-Wolff puts it: “Trust right now isn’t being earned. The technology companies aren’t treating people like people, they’re not treating people like human beings.”
Zuckerberg tries to project maturity in his statement by saying: “protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.” But the company’s actions say otherwise in a variety of ways, from their predatory business practices to the way Zuckerberg presents himself.
White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow dodged questions about whether or not the Trump Justice Department will pursue antitrust litigation against Facebook, but telegraphed the administration’s attitude by asking reporters: “Is he gonna wear a suit and tie and a clean white shirt? Is he gonna behave like an adult, as a major corporate leader, or give me this phony baloney?”
Judging from the ill-fitting black suit and tie he wore during a pre-hearings visit to the capitol, it looks like Zuckerberg will go with the grownup look. And he will claim tomorrow that “finally, we’re making it easier to understand which apps you’ve allowed to access your data.”
Which begs a question: Why haven’t you been doing that all along?