If Congress wants to write laws that effectively regulate companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter, it needs to change the way people interact with those companies, because these are not hearings. They are a waste of everyone’s time, and no one is pretending otherwise. To truly put Big Tech on the spot, future hearings need – at the very least – these three things.
The current format of the House hearing is for five-minute inquiries by gradual 60 or 70 delegates, and is a disaster – especially Zoom or Bluejians or whatever Congress uses.
Again and again we find representatives who spend 3/4 of their actual time, which is unlikely to be preposterous misleading with what has already been said. Once this is finished, the remaining time forces them to require a yes or no to answer a bad question about complex topics.
Because there is nothing to force these CEOs to actually answer with a yes or no, they always, always respond with a long answer. Have done for years, yet delegates still complain about it, even when their questions can be answered with a yes or no without over-committing or self-harassment.
When you ask, and it was a real question, “Do you think the law should allow you to be the arbiter of truth, as they are under section 230?” – You cannot seriously expect a yes or no answer. This is equivalent to the technique “Have you stopped beating your dog?”
Facing vain or impossible questions, Zuckerberg maintained an evergreen antigen that looked more like a dog than a dog. Pichai recalled, giving candid responses when the question was asked or when called. Dorsey, clearly bored, Tweeted Made his way through the hearse and responded in monocellables, even when he was no longer needed.
As irritating as it is to see this political theater, there must surely be so much to attend to. Seeing that nothing meaningful can be said or done in these five-minute abuse sessions, the chief goal of CEOs is to run outside the clock – safe and incredibly easy to do. Sometimes they appeared barely paying attention, safe in the knowledge that they could answer “These are superfluous issues … We take this very seriously, Congress-” before being cut off. Being “unsure of the exact details” and begging based on what you follow is another zero-commitment option.
The format needs to be changed to discuss first, first by increasing the question time limit of each member to at least 8 or 10 minutes; For example, by providing some kind of guideline to answer, for example guaranteeing 10 seconds but silencing them after 30. Hearing of these videos has lost a lot to Crostock, which is ultimately better than allowing Bad North to leave for 20 seconds. For 25.
It can also pay to limit participants, allowing committee leaders to allocate time as they see fit to a small number of delegates who have more than boilerplate resentment to put on record. How exactly this can be accomplished is probably subject to a lack of rules and procedural things, but seriously, it makes no sense to include most of these people. Keep it appropriate, keep it bipartisan, and allow each party to either take out its crank or do it themselves.
Actual results or legally withdrawn promises must also exist. One questioner gave an independent audit to Jack Dorsey – who, on record, promised Congress – in 2018. It never happened, Dorsey said, that they decided to do something else instead. So it was not a promise, it was not a requirement, and there was no legal compulsion to do anything. Why even bother asking if all you’re doing is asking for a favor? MPs need to backup their bark, and if not, they should avoid barking so much.
Have a real agenda
If the format changes, the agenda also needs to change. Because if we simply give these clueless MPs more time to read their scripts, the scripts will expand to fill the time allotted to them, like legislative goldsmiths.
We have seen hearings that have made a difference, usually because the people involved have evidence to present and reason with it. Vice President Kamala Harris with a background as a lawyer, it was great – he made it very hot for Zuckerberg in 2018. Reps. Pramila Jaipal (D-WA) and David Siciline (D-RI) look like Jeff Bezos. Either was ignorant or he had something to hide last year from being confronted with the need for testimony and the actual answer.
Unfortunately, we cannot trust our legislators to inform (or truth) or really care about these issues. Most of the time his questions come up as if with some quick background searches one can throw together one hour before the hearing. Some of it (such as hammering at the long-fixed NY Post / Hunter Biden debacle) is so old that it proves beyond doubt that the questioner had no intention of addressing the issues at hand. Why should they waste everyone’s time on irrelevant topics?
The subpoena power comes with its own problems – no one wants to fight a court battle every time, because they want to ask some questions – but if Congress is not using the means available to implement these issues, So what exactly do they bring to the table?
If there is no driving force behind a hearing, such as an event, investigation, or issuance of a document, they are by definition almost a way for delegates to sound bites and appear related to their constituency. Today’s incident is an example of this.
Bring in principals, not figureheads
Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey are very smart. Very well informed. Very important But their roles as decision-makers in their companies and industries become clear and make it impossible for them to say anything that has not been drafted and approved ahead of time, and that they do not want to miss or have an absent peer Are free.
There is no blood to squeeze from these stones, so invite someone else. It was a hearing about divestment – these companies have people making everyday decisions and directly overseeing projects on that subject. They Congress should be asked to answer the questions.
It is predictable, if almost certainly untrue, that Zuckerberg does not “miss” conversations with users about hiding misuse of Facebook data. Getting him to that position is a victory of sorts, but it would be better for the person who really had the responsibility, the person who cannot take refuge in paranoid ignorance.
Surely these VPs and heads that you have will also be media trained and equipped with canned statements, but it is better than the alternative. These are wrapped in CEO Teflon and this is not the first time in front of the Chilla Chilla team. They no longer care about anything, but keep the hearing as boring as possible and avoid a news cycle. (Dorsey’s odd watch was a great blow-off valve for it. Pichai’s aggressive simple backdrop gave you nothing to focus on but his answers – foul play. And Zuckerberg’s high-quality camera setup gave him more Made moist and robotic.)
Whenever one of these hearings takes place, the extreme perception of them is of lost opportunity. The MPs chosen here have been given the opportunity to speak directly to some of the most powerful people in the tech industry, and perhaps 9 out of 10 have used that time to backtrack old topics that give questionable information in the record , Or simply give them a chance to push around someone like Mark Zuckerberg. The temptation is understandable, but legislators must put the country first.
Although some delegates raised important issues today, the format kept them from giving concrete answers; The lack of a harmonized agenda or central documents meant that they had no concrete evidence; The subjects of his inquiry were bored and there was no reason to say anything beyond what he said in his carefully prepared early statements. If future hearings – concerning this or other industries – do not change things, one should not be surprised, if they do nothing of the kind, hot air.