John Kennedy Dismisses CNN Host's Call to Apologize for Accusing Facebook's User Agreement of Being in 'Swahili'

Kennedy accused of racism for telling Zuckerberg to write a new user agreement in 'non-Swahili'

April 10, 2018

Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.) on Tuesday advised Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to improve the company's user agreement by putting it into English rather than Swahili, and he dismissed calls to apologize.

Kennedy bluntly criticized Facebook’s user agreement during a Senate hearing Tuesday, saying that it does nothing to inform users of their rights.

"Here’s what everybody has been trying to tell you today, and I say this gently: Your user agreement sucks," Kennedy told Zuckerberg. "The purpose of that user agreement is to cover Facebook's rear end. It is not to inform your users about their rights."

"I'm going to suggest to you that you go back home and rewrite it," Kennedy added. "Tell your $1,200-an-hour lawyers—no disrespect, they are good—you want them written in English and non-Swahili."

CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Kennedy about the hearing, and she included a question about the "outrage" about his use of "Swahili," a language spoken in East Africa. Some said that constituted a "racial slur," which Kennedy dismissed.

"There is nothing to apologize for," Kennedy told Burnett. "I think everybody understood the point I was trying to make."

"So no apology at all?" Burnett asked.

"No," Kennedy replied.

Discussing Zuckerberg’s handling of the hearing, Kennedy criticized him for being too rehearsed. He said he was "mildly disappointed" in how little Zuckerberg seemed to connect with the senators’ questions, and he warned he may vote to pass regulations on social media.

"I don't want to regulate him. It’s the last thing I want to do, but by golly, I will vote to do it if he is not going to really sit down and be serious about this," Kennedy said.