Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen explains social media to Congress in ...

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen explains social media to Congress in ...
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen explains social media to Congress in ...

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen was peppered with bizarre questions about social media from clueless lawmakers during Saturday Night Live's satirical take on her Senate testimony.

Haugen, played by SNL cast member Heidi Gardner, was asked if Facebook's algorithm - the mathematical formula used to decide how prominent posts appear on users' feeds - was a physical object by Louisiana Senator Neely Kennedy.

Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, played by Cecily Strong, groused about her 2,000 friends, and whether she was more popular than singer Drake.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, played by Aidy Bryant, lashed out at a page branding him a virgin.

And South Carolina Sen Lindsey Graham, played by James Johnson Austin, moaned that copying Instagram's 'gymspiration' posts of men working out were failing to give him the body he desires.  

In Saturday night's cold open, Gardner introduced herself as Haugen, the former Facebook employee who came forward last week to reveal that Facebook executives knew about the harm it was causing to young adults and democracies, but chose not to act.

She testified before Congress on Tuesday, demanding that American officials regulate the social media giant.

But in SNL's spoof of the hearing, instead of discussing the scandals at Facebook and the harm it causes, Haugen has to field questions from Congressmembers about how social media works.

The opening sketch featured Heidi Gardner as Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, testifying before Congress

The opening sketch featured Heidi Gardner as Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, testifying before Congress

The first senator to ask questions in the sketch is Senator Diane Feinstein, played by Cecily Strong, who asks if 2,000 friends on Facebook is a lot

The first senator to ask questions in the sketch is Senator Diane Feinstein, played by Cecily Strong, who asks if 2,000 friends on Facebook is a lot

It starts with a title screen from C-SPAN, as a voiceover says: 'You're watching C-SPAN on a Saturday night, wow.

'We now return to coverage of the Facebook hearings in Congress,' the voiceover continues before dissolving the title screen to reveal Mikey Day, as Sen. Richard Blumenthal leading the Congressional hearings. 

He says:  'Once again, I would like to thank the Facebook whistleblower for coming forward,' to which Gardner's Haugen replies, 'Thank you. It's nice to be in an office with no skateboards.'

Day, as Blumenthal, then continues the hearing, saying: 'Now my colleagues are eager to ask you questions about the inner workings of Facebook and Instagram. 

'The chair recognizes Senator Feinstein of California,' he says, as the camera moves to Cecily Strong playing Diane Feinstein.

'Ms. Haugen, I applaud your testimony here today,' she starts off. 'What Facebook has done is disgraceful and you better believe Congress will be taking action right after we pass the infrastructure bill, raise the debt ceiling, prosecute those responsible for the January 6th insurrection and stop Trump from using executive privilege, even though he's no longer president.

'But after all that, you watch out, Facebook.'

'Well, 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,' Haugen says, to which Feinstein replies: 'And I appreciate that. My question is, I have 2,000 friends on Facebook. Is that good?'

'Is it good?' Haugen replies, visibly confused.

'Like, is that a lot? 2,000 sounds like a lot.'

'How many does Drake have? 4,000?'

'I think he has like 50 million,' Haugen replies.

'Oh, my God. Well, no wonder he never answered my poke,' Feinstein says in response.

At that point Blumenthal, played by Day, turns the podium over to Senator Neely Kennedy of Louisiana, played by Kyle Mooney.

In the sketch, Senator Richard Blumenthal, played by Mikey Day, leads the discussion

In the sketch, Senator Richard Blumenthal, played by Mikey Day, leads the discussion

 'Ms. Haugen, you've told us a lot of disturbing information about this so-called algorithm,' he says. 'I just want to clear up a few points. Where is it?'

'The algorithm?' Haugen asks 

'Yeah,' he replies. ' Do you have it with you now?'

'Uh no,' she says, 'but there are algorithms in all our phones and computers.'

'Not mine, I got a Jitterbug flip phone,' Mooney, as Kennedy, says. '[It] only lets me call my son or the hospital.

'Now exactly, how big is this algorithm?' he asks. 'Stop me when I get there,' he says as he slowly moves his hands further apart.

After a moment, Haugen asks him to 'please stop,' to which Kennedy says 'Wooey, that's pretty big. Scary stuff. No further questions.'

The questioning then again turns to Sen. Ted Cruz, played by Aidy Bryant. 

'I was particularly drawn to your testimony about bullying online,' she says, as Cruz. 'How some teenagers - and adult men - are bullied almost constantly.

'Yeah, it's very disturbing,' Haugen replies.

'Yeah, so I'm wondering how do you turn off that feature on Facebook where everyone comments on all your posts and says "you're bad" and they "hate you?"' Cruz asks.

'Well there's an option to turn off comments,' she replies.

'OK excellent,' Bryant's Cruz says, as he appears to take notes on a giant legal pad. 'And I'm also concerned about the toxic extremist groups you mentioned.

'I've seen groups with hateful name like "Ted Cruz sucks" or "Ted Cruz is the real zodiac killer" or "How could Ted Cruz have kids when he a virgin?"

'Shouldn't we flag those as misinformation?' he asks. 

'Well, "Ted Cruz sucks" isn't really misinformation, it's just one person's opinion,' Haugen replies.

'Well, it's more than one person's opinion,' Cruz retorts.

The sketch also featured newcomer James Austin Johnson playing a boisterous Lindsey Graham who is upset with how people look on Instagram

The sketch also featured newcomer James Austin Johnson playing a boisterous Lindsey Graham who is upset with how people look on Instagram

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