Palpable Embarrassment After US Senate Faces the Book
The prospect of listening to the Senate grill Mark Zuckerberg over his massive data breach involving Cambridge Analytica was already a dry proposition. Cambridge was accused of selling off user data. Yes. Your data could have been “scraped” and sold without your permission. That was what this was all about. If they could have focused on the growing power of tech giants, the monopoly and outright overlord like influence Facebook could have in 10 to 20 years, this would have been something worth listening to.
Instead, it was almost immediately apparent that most of the Senators were there to grab some applause with their shallow questions, white belt setups and canned responses or openings. I listened to a group of people who were vastly out of touch with the power of Facebook, technology and the issues that face all humans in the near future.
We Don’t Live in a 5 Minute World!
The antiquated, hardball style question system that the senate engaged in only made matters worse. Each senator was allowed 5 minutes to ask questions. The questions were simple and silly, often overlapping what the previous Senator already asked. It could be the very worst way to explore a topic so deep and a man as brilliant as Mark.
Still, our ancient Senate had a way to make it even worse. Instead of listening to the CEO of Facebook they decided, in an almost childish way, that their time and questions were more important than Zuckerberg’s explanations. Many Senators would cut Zuckerberg off midstream in an attempt to ask their poorly researched inquiry.
The twinges of senility could be heard in the similar if not identical questions being asked. I felt like I was watching a school room whose assignment was to present 5 questions to the teacher. There was more pride in the question being asked than any answer the Facebook CEO could muster. Not surprising, but incredibly daunting to listen to.
O’ Speak Again Bright Senator
Tricky Dick Durbin opened asking the CEO if he would be comfortable sharing which hotel he slept in last night. It garnered a laugh and a look but was more of a whiffed punch than a good point because Zuckerberg signed no agreement nor pressed post to divulge that information. That’s what we all do when we tell Facebook we are staying at the Marriott with friends and getting fucked up!
Ted Cruz did exactly what everyone expected Ted Cruz to do. He asked Mark why conservative and Christian content was being banned on Facebook. The CEO performed an end around and avoided that whole thing. Which leads us to another serious question about these highly influential Tech Companies:
Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?
The Neverland Americans
All of the questioning seemed to lead back to one simple fact. Facebook is a company that offers immense power and connectivity to anyone who signs in and agrees to the terms. They do this for free. Freeish. In the same way that my 6 year old son still thinks that things are actually FREE, it would seem that in the world of tech Americans aren’t willing to ask the right questions. Well, they actually aren’t willing to ask any questions or read anything, either.
These Neverland Americans sign up for all sorts of Freeish services and apps and just hope there aren’t repercussions. When there are, they look to the Senate to bring someone in to make them feel better about their ignorance. If you cannot understand that nothing is free and throwing your location, pics and videos up on the internet puts you at risk, I am afraid you are not going to survive the coming age.
Maybe that’s evolution?
I have always been a proponent of term limits for congress and there are many voices that echo the same. The fact that lawmakers have never even broached the topic is a clear sign that it is well outside of their realm of possibility. Still, watching these Senators flounder in the face of a man who could one day rule a large portion of the world, whom in some ways does already, was another reaffirmation that turnover is necessary.
These lifetime politicians are not a necessary part of a successful United States. We need new blood and, frankly, young blood to forge on into the future. We need people who understand what needs to happen to companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook. While they may seem benign, with hip or eccentric owners and operators, they are accruing power in a way that would bring about war if they were countries not companies.
The True Power and Consolidated Tech Rulers
Now, you may think I am standing up for Mark Zuckerberg in this article. I do think the guy shoulders a tremendous responsibility in giving you the opportunity to post your new haircut or tattoo. A few slip ups and he could wind up in some real hot water. That said, he is an opponent of mine on many lines. He does not stand for with me on many issues. His company has silenced people who believe some of the things I do. I am sure Facebook will be part of this slow cascade to punish gun producers and content creators as though they are criminals.
We are watching the early days of a takeover. Senator Kennedy mentioned that Zuckerberg had $1200 an hour lawyers who were “very good” (excellent command of the English language) and I immediately had a vision. Who is left to stop a tech company with vast influence and the best legal teams money can buy?
Another senator mentioned that Mark was in good with all of the lobbyists in Washington. Knowing our Senators can be bought for a bag of barbecued chips, who will stand in the way of these companies?
I hope we are not asking that they self regulate or praying they do not race towards absolute power based on a moral obligation. We all know how that story goes.
The US Senate was not the group for that job yesterday. We are rushing head first into an age that will test the will and responsibility of the individual like never before in American history. We cannot ask the senators to read our privacy polices for us. Hell, they don’t even read the laws they write!
Its time for term limits. Its time for change in government hearings and its time we sit down and figure out how to keep pace with technology. We could be the first iteration of human being to walk, willingly, into bondage.