How Experts and One Congressman Reacted to 2 Days of Mark Zuckerberg’s Testimony

Apr 12, 2018
In The News

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.). Sarbanes asked Zuckerberg to explain how Facebook embeds its employees in political campaigns and what kind of help the social media giant provides to those campaigns. This is why he pursued those questions:

“It all goes to the broader issue of Facebook’s ability, because it is such an important commodity in the communications space, to offer up benefits to clients, including political clients ― including potentially sitting elected lawmakers, who are the very ones who are going to need to turn around, step back, look at arm’s length and decide whether there needs to be some regulation of this entity. So you’re right back to the issue of whether special interests or powerful interests out there are in a position to lean on the gears of the system in a way that can get them special treatment when it comes to public policy.” 

What he hopes to find out:

“I’m very interested to know how does this work. Is an embedded Facebook employee sitting next to the chief information officer or the digital tech supervisor of the campaign ― sitting right next to them as they run into problems getting ads approved according to the Facebook requirements and so forth? Can the campaign person turn to that employee next to them and say, ‘Can you help me out? What do we do here?’ And did that result in this real imbalance ― huge imbalance ― in the number of Facebook ads placed for the Trump campaign on the Facebook platform compared with the Clinton campaign. That can obviously tie back to how much each campaign was willing to purchase on the platform. But the approval process for ads can take some turnaround time. And if you have an embedded employee sitting there next to you, you might be able to get that fast-tracked. We don’t know, but these are some of the questions that need to be asked.”