WASHINGTON, D.C. — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave testimony to the House Financial Services Committee regarding a planned currency transfer application that his company and others are attempting to establish. Zuckerberg also fielded a number of questions that legislators on the committee had for him regarding Facebook’s policies and corporate behavior.
Zuckerberg was pelted by pointed questions from both Republicans and Democrats. He was questioned about potential violations of the Fair Housing Act committed by firms that use Facebook’s advertising features to target certain demographics, while discriminating against others. Zuckerberg was asked about what his company is doing to discourage and eradicate sex trafficking on his platform. Mr. Zuckerberg was also questioned about a speech he gave last week at Georgetown University on the subject of free speech and Facebook’s role in protecting it.
In his speech, Mr. Zuckerberg attempted to frame Facebook as a neutral defender of free speech. Facebook and its main competitor Twitter have both faced heavy criticism for not doing a stronger job of keeping hate speech and viral disinformation off their respective platforms.
The impulse is to pull back from free expression,” he said. But, he continued, “We are at a crossroads. We can either stand for free expression … or we can decide the cost is simply too great. We must continue to stand for free expression.” (CNN)
Zuckerberg has been the target of conservative anger over what some see as an inherent bias on his platform against certain conservative views. From the left, he’s been assailed for his seemingly unscrupulous business tactics that some say don’t do enough to keep the harmful and toxic influence of hate speech purveyors off his site, just so he can get more data from users to sell.
Mr. Zuckerberg has denied allegations of bias and insists his company is doing all it can to keep hate speech of its platform.
In one moment during the hearing, Zuckerberg told committee members that Facebook is committed to protecting freedom of speech and expression for a “number of reasons,” and that most of those reasons are “the personal data of every single human being on earth,” which he said his company still looks to secure. Mr. Zuckerberg said that the more personal data that Facebook is able to get its hands on, the “higher the revenues,” which he says his cyborg circuitry was programmed by designers to care about.
“Congressman, thank you for that question. First, let me just say that at Facebook, personally we don’t discriminate,” Zuckerberg said. “Data is data. Well, sorry, excuse me, but data is money. I always confuse those two.”
Zuckerberg assured the committee that his company “doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t tolerate discrimination” in any of its systems.
“To us, at Facebook, we don’t want to stifle the conversation. Who are we to stop an anti-vaxxer Neo-Nazi from telling everyone brown skinned people are under control of the Jewish Cabal that runs all things,” Zuckerberg asked rhetorically. “The fact of the matter is that today, our guiding principle is that we see profitable personal data on both sides.”
Facebook “only sees people and their data as individual profit centers,” Zuckerberg insisted.
“We don’t really care what you post. Pictures. Videos. Whatever,” Zuckerberg admitted. “The only reason Facebook polices content at all with our industry leading, patented Shitty-Ass Algorithm technique, is to keep conservative Boomers from being too triggered by the fact that liberals, immigrants, and LGTBQ people exist. But let me reiterate — we don’t place value judgments on anyone. We view white nationalists the same as we view overly aggressive vegans. As long as both have personal data we can scrape and sell to advertisers, we don’t care what they think or believe.”
Freedom of speech, Zuckerberg said, is “vitally important” and “something worth turning your platform into the online version of Mos Eisley Spaceport” for.
“What good are standards if they don’t make you enough money to buy a sixth vacation home? What good are morals and principles if you can’t buy that little island in the Caribbean you’ve got your eye on,” Zuckerberg asked. “Freedom of speech is vital, but my $20,000 a day mescaline habit won’t pay for itself.”
Editor’s Note: The preceding paragraph contains language referring to a mescaline habit of Mr. Zuckerberg’s. We could not verify the veracity of this claim. However since it’ll be published on Facebook, where truth doesn’t matter as long as it’s political, we feel confident publishing it.
Before ending his testimony for the day, Mr. Zuckerberg also spoke about a few issues not related to free speech.
“We’d like to just also remind everyone that you can still poke your friends. Poking is fun, you should try poking,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s not like when you click poke we’re grabbing every bit of data we can and throwing it into a centralized database where we can then sell that data in bulk to people who you don’t know. That’s crazy. Who said that! Not me! Bye!”
Zuckerberg snapped his fingers and disappeared on a cloud of smoke and stock ticker tape.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.