‘SNL’ sketch on Facebook whistleblower hearing pokes fun at US senators’ disconnect with social media

‘SNL’ sketch on Facebook whistleblower hearing pokes fun at US senators’ disconnect with social media

  • “Saturday Night Live” opened its show mocking the Facebook whistleblower hearing in DC this week.
  • Cast members portrayed former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and various US senators.
  • Haugen testified at a hearing this week criticizing Facebook’s negative impacts on society.

“Saturday Night Live” proves once again that Silicon Valley drama isn’t off-limits to the show’s satirical bite.

The late night variety show began its October 9 episode, hosted by Kim Kardashian West, with its a C-SPAN cold open covering this week’s Senate hearings from a Facebook whistleblower.

Former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen, played by SNL’s Heidi Gardner, responded to questions from a panel of senators, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Mikey Day), Sen. Diane Feinstein (Cecily Strong), Sen. John Kennedy (Kyle Mooney), and Sen. Ted Cruz (Aidy Bryant). 

Cecily’s Feinstein kicked-off the proceedings, praising Gardner’s Haugen for her decision to come forward with Facebook allegations, before undermining it and citing”higher-priority” issues, like passing an infrastructure bill, raising the debt ceiling, and prosecuting the January 6 rioters

“As a former Facebook engineer, I’m here today because I have seen firsthand how Facebook products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy,” Gardner’s Haugen said in a serious tone.

The various senators followed with a slew of random social media questions, alluding to the senators’ generational disconnect when it comes to technology. Cecily’s Feinstein asked if “2,000 Facebook friends” was “a lot,” while Mooney’s Kennedy mistook an algorithm for a tangible object, asking “how big is this ‘algorithm?” 

Bryant’s Cruz also chimed-in to parallel bullying toward teens widespread criticism of the senator online, claiming that hypothetical Facebook groups like “Ted Cruz Sucks” should be flagged misinformation.

“Ted Cruz sucks’ isn’t really misinformation,” Gardner’s Haugen replied. “It’s just one person’s opinion.”

The real Frances Haugen testified at a Senate hearing this week after revealing herself publicly as the Facebook whistleblower who leaked a trove of internal documents and research to the Wall Street Journal. The documents highlighted the tech company’s controversial practices, including its prioritization of profits over managing misinformation, extremism, and division.

The skit also made references to the highly popular

Netflix
show, “Squid Game”, and various online memes, further emphasizing the joke about the senators’ pop culture and social media ignorance.

The cold open ended with a short-lived appearance by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, played by SNL’s Alex Moffat, before cutting to MySpace cofounder, Tom Anderson, who Mikey Day’s Blumenthal called the “OG social media king.” In real-life, Mark Zuckerberg responded to Haugen’s claims in a 1,300-word statement, saying they “don’t make any sense.”

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