Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg mercilessly mocked by Stephen Colbert

Commentary: Cambridge Analytica doesn't escape the late-night host's scorn either, as Colbert can't help marveling at the mess.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Mark Zuckerberg smiling

Colbert presented Zuckerberg's reaction to the crisis.

The Late Show; YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I admit I've spent many years now sniggering at the exploits of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Ever since he declared that he knew people didn't want privacy and insisted that Facebook was the guiding light for new social norms, I've wondered what world his mind inhabited.

Now that he and his company are twisting in the wind -- after revelations that when it comes to user data Facebook is seemingly the sieve that keeps on sieving -- late-night hosts have arrived at the chucklefest.

Last night, Stephen Colbert dedicated a full five minutes of good sneer at Facebook, Zuckerberg and Cambridge Analytica, the company that allegedly harvested Facebook data and bragged about its nefarious methods of influencing elections. 

Of Facebook, he said: "It's less they're like a bank that got robbed at gunpoint and more like a bank that just gave bank robbers your money because that's their business model."

This is, of course, a problem for users.

"Now you can't quit the bank because your whole family is at the bank and also the bank is where you get to see if all your high school friends got fat," added the host.

And how, asked Colbert, was the news that Facebook's market value had dipped by $36 billion reported on your Facebook news feed? Answer: "Facebook's Shares Tank Thanks To Hillary's Pizza Sex Ring! #Benghazi."

Colbert mocked Zuckerberg's silence on the whole issue. Yes, I always thought Facebook was all about being open and connected. How odd that when it hits trouble it becomes remarkably closed and disconnected.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

As for Cambridge Analytica, Colbert couldn't help but question the company's boasting that it had done, well, pretty much everything for the Trump campaign.

"Wow, so it was their meticulous data and analytics that informed Trump's strategy of 'wear hat and yell about wall.'"

Even worse, said Colbert, was Cambridge Analytica's executives insisting they'd invented the phrase "Crooked Hillary."

"Wait, wait. They made up 'Crooked Hillary'? Coming up with demeaning nicknames was the one skill we knew Trump had," he said.

The question is whether all this laughter will lead to some sort of redemptive outcome. 

Zuckerberg will reportedly make a statement within the next 24 hours. I'm sure it will be edifying.

But let's not forget that the reason why Facebook, Google and so many others gained money and might was us. 

We the people gave them our data. All so that we could more easily show off to our friends and our quasi-not-really-don't-know-them friends on the internet.

Was it worth it?

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