WHAT else would you expect from a Facebook event?

The memes and one-liners were coming thick and fast as "alien" Mark Zuckerberg spent a second day deflecting bitter accusations about his company's massive power - and internet speculation on whether he was really human reached fever pitch.

Jim Carrey posted a cartoon drawing of the social network boss as an extraterrestrial visiting from "planet Zuckerberg" to destroy Earth. The actor has been among the most vocal celebrity #deleteFacebook campaigners, announcing in February that he was dumping his shares in the company because it had "profited" from alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Last month, Carrey tweeted another Zuckerberg sketch with a thumbs-down and the caption, "Who are you sharing your life with? #regulatefacebook" after the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal.

 

"Is everyone just gonna pretend they didn't notice that an alien is currently inhabiting Mark Zuckerberg's body," tweeted TV star Jimmy Tatro.

Many remarked on the unlikely symmetry of the Facebook CEO's face and his implacable calm in the face of hours of questioning from ageing politicians about the internet's most basic functions.

His five-hour grilling in the House of Representatives overnight was far tougher than the questioning he faced from the Senate yesterday - but Wall Street seemed satisfied, with Facebook's shares soaring upwards.

Mr Zuckerberg came out on top for the second day running, this time not simply because his questioners barely knew what Facebook was, but by dint of sheer endurance.

 

Many were left wondering what had really been promised or achieved, with Mr Zuckerberg regularly saying he would have to have his team look into certain questions, and refusing to commit to protecting users' data as far as he possibly could.

The Facebook boss regularly alluded to his company's modest roots in a Harvard dorm room, and said he would be open to regulation, as long as that didn't harm small start-ups.

But many viewers were wryly conscious that this was the powerful, multi-billionaire chairman of a company with two billion users worldwide.

The 33-year-old was quizzed on privacy, censorship and transparency, with members of the House of Representatives not holding back in their onslaught. But Mr Zuckerberg remained remarkably composed as he was berated for the social giant's mistakes and "long history of apologies".

For the second day running, he was also probed on whether Facebook listened to users' conversations through their smartphone's microphone. Congressman Larry Bucshon gave examples of times when he and people he knew had been served suspiciously relevant ads.


"My understanding is that a lot of these cases that you're talking about are a coincidence," Mr Zuckerberg said, insisting that neither Facebook or its competitors listen to unauthorised audio.

That hasn't dampened the paranoia of the tech world, however, with one Twitter user captioning a Zuckerberg photo with a quote from Psycho. Others observed that Zuck would either need a drink or a hearty round of untagging after his ten-hour marathon.

It's certainly been fun. But has the joking around distracted from the reality of how Facebook is eroding our privacy, allowing the purchase of our data and exposing our democracy to exploitation?

 



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