Sen. Sullivan to Zuckerberg: Five easy questions - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 19, 2021
HomeAnchorage Daily PlanetSen. Sullivan to Zuckerberg: Five easy questions

Sen. Sullivan to Zuckerberg: Five easy questions

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Senator Sullivan, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, joined his colleagues for marathon joint-hearing on Tuesday to ask Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg a few simple questions about data data breaches and growing privacy concerns.

Sullivan asked five questions of Zuckerberg, including whether the company is a technology company or a publishing company. The answer is, Zuckerberg said, likely both.

1) Only in America? The Answer is Yes

SULLIVAN: Mr. Zuckerberg. Quite a story right – dorm room to the global behemoth that you guys are. Only in America, would you agree with that?”

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, mostly in America.

SULLIVAN: You couldn’t do this in China, right? What you did in 10 years?

ZUCKERBERG: Well Senator, there are some very strong Chinese internet companies.

SULLIVAN: Right, but…you’re supposed to answer yes to this question. Ok, come on I’m trying to help you. I mean give me a break. You’re in front of a bunch of Senators. The answer is yes, ok.

2) Is Facebook Too Powerful?

SULLIVAN: You have talked about a lot of power. You’ve been involved in elections…You’re really all over the world. Facebook – 2 billion users, over 200 million Americans, $40 billion in revenue. I believe you and Google have almost 75% of the digital advertising in the U.S. One of the key issues here, is Facebook too powerful? Are you too powerful? Do you think you’re too powerful?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think most of the time when people talk about our scale they’re referencing that we have 2 billion people in our community. And I think one of the big questions that we need to think through here is the vast majority of those 2 billion people are outside of the U.S. And I think that is something – to your point – that Americans should be proud of. And when I brought up the Chinese companies, I think that that’s a real strategic and competitive threat that an American technology policy should be thinking about.

3) What Are Thoughts on the Instinct to Regulate or Break Up Companies of this Size?

SULLIVAN: When you look at the history of this country and you look at the history of these kinds of hearings… When companies become big and powerful, and accumulate a lot of wealth and power, what typically happens from this body is there’s an instinct to either regulate or break up, right?…Do you have any thoughts on those two policy approaches?

ZUCKERBERG: Well Senator, I’m not the type of person who thinks that all regulation is bad. So I think the internet is becoming increasingly important in people’s lives and I think we need to have a full conversation about what is the right regulations, not whether it should be or shouldn’t be.

4) Does Regulating Facebook Cement its Position as a Dominant Power?

SULLIVAN: One of my worries on regulation, again with a company of your size. You’re saying, “hey we might be interested in being regulated.” But as you know regulations can also cement the dominant power…You look at what happened with Dodd-Frank. That was supposed to be aimed at the big banks, the regulations ended up empowering the big banks and keeping the small banks down. Do you think that’s a risk given your influence that if we regulate we’re actually going to regulate you into a position of cemented authority when one of my biggest concerns about what you guys are doing is that the next Facebook, which we all want, the guy in the dorm room, we all want that… that you are becoming so dominate that we’re not able to have that next Facebook. What are your views on that?

ZUCKERBERG: Well Senator, I agree with the point that when you’re thinking through regulation across all industries you need to be careful that it doesn’t cement in the current companies that are winning.

5) Are you a Tech Company or a Publisher?

SULLIVAN: You mention you’re a tech company, a platform, but there are some who are saying you are the world’s biggest publisher. I think about 140 million get their news from Facebook… You said you are responsible for your content. So which are you, are you a tech company or are you the world’s largest publisher? Because I think that goes to a really important question on what form of regulation or government action, if any, we would take.

ZUCKERBERG: Senator this is a really big question. I view us as a tech company, because the primary thing that we do is build technology and product.

SULLIVAN: But you said you are responsible for your content, which makes you kind of a publisher, right?

ZUCKERBERG: Well I agree that we’re responsible for the content, but we don’t produce the content. When people ask us if we’re a media company or publisher, my understanding of what the heart of what they’re really getting at is: Do we feel responsibility for the content on our platform? The answer to that I think is clearly yes. But I don’t think that’s incompatible with, fundamentally at our core, being a technology company.


The questions we’d like to ask Mark Zuckerberg:

MUST READ ALASKA: Do you think that ad technology being used goes too far?

The targeting tools that you ‘ve developed, the pixels that advertisers can place allows Facebook to track and monetize the web traffic, not just for Facebook but for anyone running digital advertising today: Is that too much control over people’s data?

For example, the advertising platform Facebook allows to place a pixel along with the ad slot on their webpage. That means Amazon has access to information about the complete browsing history of the Amazon account, IP address, and the browser session. The information is obviously going back and forth between Facebook and Amazon, but users are completely unaware their browsing preferences are being tracked by these companies. Is this proper?

Are you running for president? (Asking for a friend.)


The Must Read Alaska community may have questions of their own for Mark Zuckerberg. Feel free to add them in in the comment section, (which is on WordPress, not on a platform owned by Facebook).


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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • 1. Do you believe it is appropriate for Facebook to decline to publish materials that include facts and opinions that Facebook does not agree with?

    2. If your answer is yes, what standards and principles will Facebook use in making such decisions?

  • Joseph Goebbels the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment understood what happens when you control the media. I’m sure Zuckerberg does too.

    • Well said.

  • The Zuck is no friend of liberty.

  • Do you want the job done right do away with our local dreamers we need a leader
    to accomplish our goals, some Legislators need to be voted out also. We have a great
    State but we don’t have anyone to run it. do you want leader ship lets go to work, lets
    (VOTE) for Mike Dunleavy for Governor we will see our state great again.
    thank you Larry Zenor

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