Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for hours on Tuesday, with questions ranging from the social network’s regulation to its cooperation with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Repeated questions from multiple senators — and the collision between the chamber and one of the most famous faces in Silicon Valley — made for some awkward moments. Here are some of the highlights from Zuckerberg’s Tuesday testimony.
Lindsey Graham Bringing Up Monopolies
When Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Zuckerberg about Facebook’s “biggest competitor,” Zuckerberg responded that Facebook has “a lot of competitors.” When pressed to name the primary one, however, the founder struggled to respond succinctly — leading Graham to ask if Facebook has a monopoly on the market.
“It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me,” Zuckerberg answered, drawing a few chuckles from the crowd.
Orrin Hatch Asking How Facebook Makes Money
At one point in his testimony, Zuckerberg said that “a version” of Facebook will always be free, causing some confusion about the site’s business model for one senator.
“If so, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” asked Sen. Orrin Hatch.
“Senator, we run ads,” Zuckerberg responded, after a lengthy pause.
Zuckerberg Backtracking About Special Counsel Cooperation
Sen. Patrick Leahy asked Zuckerberg if Facebook had been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, and if employees had been interviewed. Zuckerberg replied affirmatively to both, but noted that he had not been interviewed by Mueller’s office.
He quickly backtracked, however, saying that, while Facebook is cooperating with the special counsel, he cannot be certain subpoenas have actually been issued.
Zuckerberg Sparring with Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz grilled Zuckerberg on a number of issues related to censorship and political bias, but things got a bit heated when he brought up Palmer Luckey, an ex-employee who was involved in the pro-Donald Trump group Nimble America.
When asked why Luckey was fired, Zuckerberg responded, “That is a specific personnel matter that it seems like it would be inappropriate to speak to here,” before adding, when pressed, that, “It was not because of a political view.”
Dick Durbin Musing About Privacy By Asking for Zuckerberg’s Hotel Information
To drive home a point about privacy, Sen. Dick Durbin asked Zuckerberg whether he would “be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?”
Zuckerberg laughed, paused, and eventually responded, “No.”
Durbin then asked if Zuckerberg would share the identities of those he had messaged with recently — which Zuckerberg again declined to do.
Zuckerberg Fumbling a ‘Softball’ Question from Dan Sullivan
Sen. Dan Sullivan threw Zuckerberg “a softball” by alluding to the fact that his tech behemoth could only have been built in America. When Zuckerberg began to answer by praising Chinese internet companies, Sullivan said, laughing, “You’re supposed to say yes to this question. Okay, come on, I’m trying to help you. Give me a break.”
John Kennedy Has Thoughts on Facebook’s User Agreement
Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy challenged Facebook’s current user agreement, saying it is established to “cover Facebook’s rear end” and not as a way to inform people of their rights. He challenged Zuckerberg to rewrite it “in English” so that the “average American can understand it.”
“Your user agreement sucks,” he said.