During Wednesday’s House hearing with Mark Zuckerberg, Rep. Billy Long, a Republican from Missouri (and my home member of Congress,) didn’t seem particularly concerned with Facebook’s role in enabling Cambridge Analytica to improperly harvest 87 million users’ personal data. “I represent 751,000 people, and out of that 751,000 people, the people in my area that are really worked up about Facebook and this hearing today would also fit with you there at the table. So, I’m not getting the outcry from my constituents about what’s going on with Cambridge Analytica,” he said.
Still, he managed to make Zuckerberg squirm by asking about Facemash, a website Zuckerberg created nearly 15 year ago that allowed visitors to compare people’s attractiveness from two side-by side pictures. “One question I’d like to ask before I go into my questioning is what was Facemash, and is it still up and running?” he asked, as Zuckerberg smiled a bit uncomfortably.
“Congressman, Facemash was a prank website that I launched in college in my dorm room before I started Facebook,” Zuckerberg said. He emphasized that it wasn’t related to Facebook and went on to criticize the 2010 movie The Social Network. “There was a movie about this, or it said it was about this,” he said. “It was unclear truth. The claim that Facemash was somehow connected to the development of Facebook, it isn’t. It wasn’t.”
But his classmates haven’t forgotten it.