Despite his evident unease before all the cameras and members of Congress, Mark Zuckerberg’s first day on Capitol Hill appears to have been a success.
He made a few concessions -- like accepting responsibility for the content on Facebook and reiterating his view that the platform is not above regulation -- but otherwise seemed to escape unscathed.
Along with weeks of preparation, Zuckerberg’s win was clearly thanks to a rather toothless performance by members of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.
Notwithstanding some stern words from Sen. John Thune (R-SD), lawmakers simply seemed too scattered and tech-illiterate to pin down Zuckerberg.
As his prepared notes show, Zuckerberg was ready to defend his position as CEO of Facebook.
Instead, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) asked Zuckerberg to help her bring better internet connections to rural West Virginians.
Hinting at more serious measures, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did ask Zuckerberg if he thought Facebook was a monopoly. Yet, after Zuckerberg said, “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me,” that was the end of that.
Rarely graceful, the young mogul certainly struggled from time to time. Pressed by Sen. Ben Sasse of (R-Neb), Zuckerberg struggled to define hate speech, while he seemed unprepared for Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) questions regarding discriminatory housing ads on Facebook.
At the end of the day, however, it was clear that Congress had failed to hold Zuckerberg accountable for Facebook’s sins.
Not out of the woods entirely, Zuckerberg still has to face the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, while lawmakers are calling for additional hearings devoted exclusively to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
If Tuesday was any indication, however, this Congress simply isn’t equipped to take on Facebook.