The long-awaited Facebook CEO’s testimony before Congress was a trip to Snoresville — right up until the questions by Senator Ted Cruz.
Senator Cruz hammered Mark Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill today.
It’s just so beautiful, we’re gonna leave it in his own words.
Here is the full transcript and the video.
CRUZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Zuckerberg, welcome. Thank you for being here. Mr. Zuckerberg, does Facebook consider itself a neutral public forum?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we consider ourselves to be a platform for all ideas.
CRUZ: Let me ask the question again. Does Facebook consider itself to be a neutral public forum? And representatives of your company have given conflicting answers on this. Are you a first amendment speaker expressing your views, or are you a neutral public forum allowing everyone to speak?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, here’s how we think about this. I don’t believe that — uh — there’s certain content that we clearly do not allow — hate speech, terrorist content, nudity, anything that makes people feel unsafe in the community. From that perspective, that’s why we generally try to refer to what we do as a platform for all ideas.
CRUZ: Let me try — just ’cause the time is constrained. It’s just a simple question. The predicate Section 230 immunity under the CDA is that you are a ‘neutral public forum’. Do you consider yourself a ‘neutral public forum’, or are you engaged in political speech, which is your right under the First Amendment?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, Senator, our goal is certainly not to engage in political speech. I am not familiar with the specific legal language of the law that you speak to, so I would need to follow up with you on that. I am just trying to lay out how broadly I think about this.
CRUZ: Well, Mr. Zuckerberg, I will say that there are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship. There have been numerous instances with Facebook. In May of 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposefully and routinely suppressed conservative stories from Trending News — including stories about CPAC, including stories about Mitt Romney, including stores about the Lois Lerner-IRS scandal, including stories about Glenn Beck. In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages, and most recently, blocked Trump-supporters Diamond and Silk’s page with 1.2 million Facebook followers after determining their content and brand were ‘unsafe to the community’. To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias. Do you agree with that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, let me say a few things about this. First, I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place. And this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to route out of the company — is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do. And I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.
CRUZ: Now, let me ask this question. Are you aware of any ad or page that has been taken down from Planned Parenthood?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I am not, but let me just finish —
CRUZ: How about Moveon.org?
CRUZ: How about Moveon.org?
ZUCKERBERG: I am not specifically aware of those cases.
CRUZ: How about any Democratic candidate for office?
ZUCKERBERG: I am not specifically aware. I mean, I’m not sure.
CRUZ: In your testimony, you say that you have 15 to 20 thousand people working on security and content review. Do you know the political orientation of those 15 to 20 thousand people engaged in content review?
ZUCKERBERG: No, Senator, we do not generally ask people about their political orientation when they are joining the company.
CRUZ: So, as CEO have you ever made hiring or firing decisions based on political positions or what candidates they supported?
CRUZ: Why was Palmer Luckey fired?
ZUCKERBERG: That is a specific personnel matter that seems like it would be inappropriate to speak to here.
CRUZ: You just made specific representation that you didn’t make decisions based on political views, is that accurate?
ZUCKERBERG: I can commit that that was not because of a political view.
CRUZ: Do you know of those 15 to 20 thousand people engaged in content review, how many if any had ever financially supported a Republican candidate for office?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I do not know that.
CRUZ: Your testimony says, ‘It is not enough that we just connect people. We have to make sure that those connections are positive.‘ It says, ‘We have to make sure that people aren’t using their voice to hurt people or spread misinformation. We have a responsibility not just to make tools, but to make sure that those tools are used for good.‘ Mr. Zuckerberg, do you feel it is your responsibility to assess users whether they are good and positive connections, or ones that those 15 to 20 thousand people deem unacceptable or deplorable?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, are you asking about me, personally?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that there are a number of things that we all agree are clearly bad — foreign interference in our elections, terrorism, self-harm, those are things —
CRUZ: I’m talking about censorship.
ZUCKERBERG: Oh, well, I think that you would probably agree that we should remove terrorist propaganda from the service. So, that — I agree I think is clearly bad activity that we want to get down. And we’re generally proud of how well we do with that. Now, what I can say, and I want to get this in before the end, here, is that I am very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas. That is a very important founding principle of what we do, and we’re proud of the discourse and the different ideas that people can share on the service, and that is something that as long as I am running the company I’m going to be committed to making sure is the case.
CRUZ: Thank you.
In case you missed my Q&A with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, at today's joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee hearing, watch it here. –> https://t.co/rjZNwGGVug
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) April 10, 2018
Here are some reactions to the exchange:
Bam! @tedcruz exposes Zuckerberg and FB total hypocrisy for how they slant content and restrict people’s access to views they don’t like. Thanks @tedcruz because many of your colleagues don’t know much about the Interweb!
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) April 10, 2018
AT LAST, THE ONE SENATOR WHO GETS IT.
— Allum Bokhari (@AllumBokhari) April 10, 2018
.@FiniteChances Ted Cruz just completed questioning Zuckerburg and nailed him on the bias FB against conservatives. Cornered Zuckerburg good. Other questioners were ill prepared and asked stupid questions.
— genuke1🦊🐎 (@genuke1) April 10, 2018
Apparently, I really need to watch Ted Cruz obliterating Mark Zuckerburg once I get home & finish Muppet Guys Talk. Sounds like dinner theater from the only guy at the event with the balls to ask real questions.
— Broodwars (@broodwars64) April 10, 2018
Zuckerburg is in charge of this congregational meeting. What a farce.
If it wasn't for Ted Cruz there hasn't been any hard questioning over selling personal info. Zuck has run circles around the bush over these weak senators
— Darrell Barnes (@Darrell03092157) April 10, 2018
I 💜 Ted Cruz right now. #Zuckerberg is a fascist censor
— Nonexistent Ducey/Sinema Voter 🦄 (@PhxGOP) April 10, 2018
Shocker — NPR didn’t ignore it…
— NPR (@NPR) April 10, 2018
Yes, there is indeed a pervasive bias against conservatives on social media platforms.
They do indeed want the ‘correct’ worldview, and it ain’t ours.
That’s why conservative news sites need your help.
Do your part — Like. Comment. Share. Repeat.