What To Watch in The Facebook Hearings

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09:  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (2nd L) arrives at a meeting with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, April 9, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before a few Congressional committees this week on the mass usersÕ data Facebook has shared with political operatives.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

Here’s a pointer to keep in mind on today’s Zuckerberg/Facebook testimony.

A huge amount of the firestorm that has landed Zuckerberg in this situation is tied to political advertising, political news, fake news, etc. It is important to realize that in terms of direct political advertising (things that are explicitly about politics) Facebook is almost certainly eager to get out of that business altogether. Political advertising is a minuscule part of Facebook’s total revenue. But it is a huge driver of its reputational debacle. And that reputational debacle is threatening scrutiny and possible new regulation which poses a potentially severe threat to Facebook’s whole business model. If Facebook can jettison political advertising and whatever civic dependencies it brings with it as a way to ward off that scrutiny and regulatory threat they will do it in a heartbeat. The problem for Facebook is that it’s likely gone beyond that. It’s probably too late.

But keep an eye on Zuckerberg’s effort to wall off the core business model from the controversies tied largely to politics and fake news.

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