Images can speak louder than words. When it comes to the memepocalypse that the U.S. Congress and Mark Zuckerberg triggered, this phrase goes triple.
This article highlights some of the best and most disturbing memes to come out of the Congressional Facebook hearings last week. It also questions if Congress knows how to use the Internet at all.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good meme (and a good boy). But watching The Zuck™ in the recent Congressional hearings was at once entertaining and disturbing.
As the questions unfolded, Zuckerberg did a number of things, but so did Congress. All of these actions had internet users questioning all parties involved.
This, like anything, resulted in some hilarious memes or referential media using other media on the internet.
But what exactly made this memepocalypse a disturbing revelation instead of just a joke?
Zuckerberg: an Alien, a Robot, Data, and a Scapegoat?
Any Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans will immediately recognize what this meme is referencing. If you don’t watch the show, catch up on your memes with this video.
Some of the memes released in this memepocalypse centered around Zuckerberg’s reactions. They sometimes seemed a little….alien or non-human. One of my favorites was this one entitled “Don’t forget to drink the water, humans like water”:
But others photoshopped images of classic Star Trek character Data to look like Zuckerberg. If you follow Star Trek: Next Generation, you know that Data is a synthetic lifeform powered by AI. He’s essentially an android.
When in context of the Facebook hearings, this meme is pretty hilarious because “data”.
But it isn’t all memes and games in this memepocalypse. The hearings revealed some disturbing and some puzzling things during the questioning on behalf of various U.S. Congress members.
A Congressional Hearing About Data Privacy Without Questions About Data Privacy
The above video showcases the confusing nature of these Facebook hearings. But is also showcases two very immensely odd things: Congress doesn’t really inquire about Cambridge Analytica nor do they seem to understand the internet.
In fact, Texas’ own Ted Cruz avoided questions about Cambridge Analytica altogether. Instead, he grilled Zuckerberg about whether or not right-leaning groups on Facebook had been targeted as opposed to groups like Planned Parenthood and Moveon.org.
If the whole purpose of these Facebook hearings is about the Cambridge Analytica scandal was about data privacy, then why didn’t more Congresspeople inquire about information specific to that?
“Mr. Zuckerberg, a magazine i recently opened came with a floppy disk offering me 30 free hours of something called America On-Line. Is that the same as Facebook?” pic.twitter.com/U7pqpUhEhQ
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) April 10, 2018
Too Many Questions About the Internet
This is another meme from Memepocalypse 2k18, but it isn’t far from the truth. Congressional laws regarding data privacy lag behind the technology itself in terms of protection.
What does this mean for citizens worried about the privacy of their data?
Why didn’t Congress push for more answers regarding Cambridge Analytica?
This next video demonstrates what might be the answer. Zuckerberg had to spend a great deal of time explaining how the Internet works.
Some Senators don't understand the Internet or Facebook, so naturally, Zuckerberg came to the rescue! pic.twitter.com/xiRfMu1tDP
— CNET (@CNET) April 12, 2018
The Memepocalypse Reveals Congressional Ignorance
CNET lovingly put together this video illustrating a couple of things. Some of them are hilarious, but some of them are cause for major concern regarding Congress.
The joke in the video is that Zuckerberg is explaining “the Internet” to Congress. Except that this video shows us that this is not a joke. It’s the reality.
Zuckerberg cannot control his impish grin in the opening clip. To be honest, if I were in that situation, I don’t think I could either. It seems a ubiquitous fact to internet users that ads enable digital services. How could a member of Congress not know that?
Though Zuckerberg is mired in a scandal regarding Russian Facebook accounts, these questions aren’t about that. The questions seemingly use pop culture references and rhetorical devices to try and “catch” Zuckerberg in a lie.
The questions center around things like:
- Data encryption: what it is and how it works
- Data storage: what it is and how it works
- End User License Agreements (EULAs): what they are and how they work
- How internet ads work
- What cookies are and how they work
Zuckerberg spends much of his time explaining how the tech works rather than how it is used. In the case of questioners like Senator Cruz, it seems like the agenda is on personal politics rather than citizen data privacy.
This video also shows us that Zuckerberg, while not innocent, may be an unfair target of an under-informed Congress. No matter how things develop, we have these memepocalypse gems for the rest of history now.
The question of data privacy in the U.S., however, remains unanswered.