These political grillings seem to becoming more and more frequent, and achieve less and less each time.
For those of us who follow social media closely, it’s fun to watch the heads of the big platforms square off against politicians, but it’s largely just the two sides talking across each other.
And while there really is a misinformation problem that Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai need to be held to account for, a forum where they’re spoken to like naughty children for several hours just isn’t it.
Repeatedly, senators demanded yes-or-no answers to complex questions. Often these were designed to lead the CEOs into a trap of creating a damning soundbite the politicians could use to show how tough they are, but the CEOs weren’t going to play ball.
This meant we got often useful questions presented in a way that meant the CEOs couldn’t answer meaningfully without getting told off for not answering in the ‘correct’ format. No wonder Jack Dorsey tweeted
a cheeky poll and liked a bunch of tweets
about his novelty blockchain clock
. It was probably a more productive use of his time.
We did get some news snippets of value, like Zuck saying
that Facebook is studying the mental health of children who use its products, but politicians are only going to have a meaningful dialogue with big tech CEOs if they drop the theatrics and dig into the serious issues with well-researched questions from a handful of serious, knowledgeable senators.