Translating Mark Zuckerberg’s answers to Congress

facebook with zuck

By Samra Jones Bufkins

April 11, 2018.

I know, I know, I need to update this blog more often. I’ve been focusing on my other blog.

I’ve been watching congressional hearings since the Watergate days, and I watch on CSPAN to avoid interruption by pundits. I’ve spent the last two days watching Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg answer questions put to him by the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, I noticed a pattern to his answers, many of which were repeated.

Image: Mark Zuckerberg
NBC News shot of the photogs zooming in on Zuckerberg.

In my PR career I’ve written testimony and talking points for executives, so I think I have a decent idea about the real meaning of some of his answers.

Here’s my tongue-in-cheek “translation” of the most common answers Zuckerberg offered. Feel free to add your translation (or new ones) in the comments.

Zuckerberg:        Could you repeat the question? OR Can you clarify that for me?Translation:        I need time to figure out how to get out of this mess.

Zuckerberg:        This is a really important question.
Translation:        I’m kissing your butt so you won’t ask more hard questions.

user agreement cbs
Your user agreement sucks. (CBS News)

Zuckerberg:        We pride ourselves on ______________.
Translation:        Trust us, we’re smarter than everybody, especially you.

Zuckerberg:       Users own their data.
Translation:       Users are too stupid to set their privacy settings.

Zuckerberg:        I think it’s a good idea, and we should follow up on it.
Translation:        I need time to craft an answer that sounds plausible.

Zuckerberg:        Facebook has a broader responsibility than the law requires.
Translation:        We don’t need more regulations.

Zuckerberg:        I’m not directly familiar with the details.
Translation:        I’m not telling you how we do this stuff.

Zuckerberg:        I think you’re raising an important point.
Translation:        We haven’t thought about it.

Zuckerberg:        In general….
Translation:        Hang on while I figure out how to evade your question.

infoglitz com
Zuckerberg left his talking points open during a break. Andrew Harnik of the AP gave us a glimpse.

Zuckerberg:        I’ll have to get back to you on that.
Translation:        I need time to spin that and run it by our lawyers.

Zuckerberg:        We’re going to _____________________________
Translation:        We’re taking our time and hope you forget about it.

Zuckerberg:        I’m not sure how we’re going to implement that.
Translation:        We’re still figuring out how we can profit from it.

Zuckerberg:        Users have the ability to choose their privacy settings.
Translation:        We made it hard to do so nobody does it.

Zuckerberg:        People own their content.
Translation:        We think the users are stupid and we’re capitalizing on it.

Zuckerberg:        All the data is yours. You can remove it…share it…change settings.
Translation:        It’s your fault for not managing your account better.

Zuckerberg:        Let me say a couple of things about that.
Translation:        If I blather on long enough you’ll forget the question. or run out of time.

Zuckerberg:        Privacy is an incredibly high priority for us.
Translation:        We care about our privacy, but we make money off yours.

metro co uk
When asked if he would be willing to share the name of his hotel, it took eight seconds for him to say “Um, no.” (

Zuckerberg:        We need to take a more proactive view of policing what developers do.
Translation:        We’ll look at it but probably won’t do anything about it.

Zuckerberg:        We need to develop AI tools to handle that.
Translation:        I have no idea what to do about that.

Zuckerberg:        This is an important issue, and it’s complicated.
Translation:        I’m sucking up to you, but you’re really too clueless to understand .

Zuckerberg:        That would be a valuable thing to consider.
Translation:        Thanks for the idea.

Zuckerberg:        I can’t recall.
Translation:        I wish I could take the Fifth right now.

ny post
New York Post photo

Feel free to add your own translations in the comments. Meanwhile, let’s hope they have this party for Google and Amazon executives, and maybe invite Sheryl Sandberg too.