Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg pulled off a smooth appearance in a joint Senate hearing today, dodging most questions while maintaining an adequately patient vibe through five hours of varied but mostly tame questioning.
The chief executive avoided admitting that Facebook is a publisher or a monopoly, refused to commit to any meaningful legislation and respectfully addressed lawmakers over a nearly five hour marathon testimony.
Still, he did make one rookie mistake.
Zuckerberg left his hearing notes open in front of his seat for long enough for AP Photographer Andrew Harnik to snap a high resolution shot with talking points in plain view. Twitter users and journalists scanning photos from the courtroom as they hit the wire were quick to notice, the irony of the minor privacy invasion not lost on them.
Most of the notes cover points that we heard Zuckerberg repeat during the course of the hearing, but there are a few more candid statements that didn’t come up. The notes also provide a glimpse into what lines of questioning Facebook expected. For one, they expected Congress might demand his resignation.
Below we’ve listed the subheadings on his notes in bold with any interesting bullet points pulled out. Our partial transcript retains the original emphasis from the document. Though we’ve italicized what was underlined, bold lettering is retained.
Reverse lookup (scraping)
- Do you ever fire anyone? Yes; hold people accountable all the time; not going into specifics.
- Resign? Founded Facebook. My decisions. I made mistakes. Big challenge, but we’ve solved problems before, going to solve this one. Already taking action.
- No accountability for MZ? Accountable to you, to employees, to people who use FB.
- I use FB every day, so does my family, invest a lot in security.
Business Model (ads)
- Want FB to be a service that everyone can use, has to be free, can only do that with ads.
- Let’s be clear. Facebook doesn’t sell data. You own your information. We give you controls.
- Time spent fell 5% Q4, pivot to MSI.
- [If attacked: Respectfully, I reject that. Not who we are.]
Tim Cook on biz model
- At FB, we try hard to charge you less. In fact, we’re free.
- On data, we’re similar. When you install an app on your iPhone, you give it access to some information, just like when you login with FB.
- Lots of stories about apps misusing Apple data, never seen Apple notifying people.
- Important you hold everyone to the same standard.
Election integrity (Russia)
- Silicon Valley has a problem, and Facebook is part of that problem.
- Personally care about making progress; long way to go [3% African American, 5% Hispanics]
- Consumer choice: consumers have lots of choices over how they spend their time.
- Small part of ad market: advertisers have choices too – $650 billion market, we have 6%
- Break up FB? US tech companies key asset for America; break up strengthens Chinese companies.
GDPR (Don’t say we already do what GDPR requires)