Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before congress today to answer questions from senators about Cambridge Analytica, privacy, data collection and fake news on the platform — and luckily, The Washington Post livestreamed it on Twitch.
There’s something to be said for watching a congressional hearing — a normally boring experience with sporadic moments of intrigue — on Twitch. There are more than 25,000 people watching the hearing at the time of this writing, and the chat is incredibly active. Combining Twitch culture with a person like Mark Zuckerberg, someone the internet is fond of turning into memes, makes the experience slightly more enjoyable.
The Twitch community certainly delivered in chat today, relying on emotes and jokes to roast the internet’s least favorite, easily-memed CEO. Every time Zuckerberg spoke, for example, people in chat replied with the Mr. Destructoid robot emotes, playing on the very popular joke that Zuckerberg is a robot.
Mark Zuckerburg getting roasted on Twitch with robot emojis is peak 2018 pic.twitter.com/oxHuG5Ipnr— Tristan Cooper (@TristanACooper) April 10, 2018
The joke continued when Zuckerberg went to take a sip of water; people responded by using the robot emote and typing drink_water.exe.
When Zuckerberg was given a question he couldn’t answer, or a question that chat felt was approaching territory that would inevitably make Zuckerberg feel uncomfortable, they spammed the Mr. Destructoid robot emote with the words “FATAL ERROR.” It wasn’t just Zuckerberg, either. Senators were also roasted. When Senator Ted Cruz appeared on stream, asking Zuckerberg questions about Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, the Twitch chat began to spam the word “Zodiac” and Zodiac Killer-related icons.
Chat is a big part of Twitch. It drives the culture. Understanding emotes and using the right icon at the right time is a big part of belonging to Twitch’s tight-knit community.
Twitch chat can be annoying at the best of times and downright toxic at the worst. The generally lighthearted goofs from Zuckerberg’s hearing proved there may be a new way to watch an important news event with a community online. Twitch, and Twitch chat, isn’t going to change the news industry, but it certainly gives typically dry congressional hearings a little kick.
If we can all watch Zuckerberg answer questions, and laugh at the good robot jokes happening just off to the side of the screen, it’s a better situation for everyone.