The few faces of Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg’s testimonies to congress

One the most popular topics in recent news is Mark Zuckerberg’s, CEO of Facebook Inc., testimonies to congress. The CEO of Facebook was called to answer questions on matters of data privacy, security and misuse triggered by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. News outlets all over the world have debated on whether Zuckerberg was asked the right questions or gave satisfactory answers. Others commented on his demeanor. Since ancient times, the face has been described as a “picture of the mind” (Cicero). And one thing is for certain: for most of his five-hour senate hearing Zuckerberg’s face was quite expressionless.

Captions from PBS proadcast of the hearing

Automaticaly analyze people’s facial expressions

Analyzing facial expressions and body language is a time-consuming task, even to the most trained eye. At VicarVision, we have developed FaceReader, the first commercially available software to automaticaly analyze people’s facial expressions to solve this problem. Most importantly, however, in the case of Mark Zuckerberg’s five-hour hearing we have automatically detected the few instances where he was expressive. FaceReader can be used to find “hotspots” of expression, meaning that you can dedicate your investigation to only the expressive moments you think matter the most! With just a few clicks, FaceReader allowed us to identify not only when Zuckerberg was most expressive, but also what he was expressing at that time!

The FaceReader Timeline View

FaceReader also can give you the small movements that make up a facial expression (aka Action Units) such as tightening of lips, raising of the eyebrows.

Zuckerberg’s reaction to Senator Cantwell’s question of whether companies such as Palantir, WhatsApp will fall in the same situation Facebook has fallen into.
Zuckerberg begins to response, Mr. Gardner’s question on whether users understand that they can be tracked across webpages.
Zuckerberg jokingly replying “we can do a few more hours of the hearing” to chairman Thune’s suggestion for a break

These examples show how an expression can enhance or contradict what a person is saying, or how they react to a certain statement. While identifying the true meaning behind a facial expression is a complex task, it is already very meaningful to identify when a person’s face reacts, if their default baseline is quite a neutral expression, such as Zuckerberg’s face during the hearing. It’s also interesting to see if a specific person elicits the most reactions out of a group of interviewers. Our pick for today’s hearing? Senator Thom Tillis!

Source: Wikipedia, Senator Thom Tillis

Senator Thom Thillis seemed to be one of the senators who invoked the most out of Zuckerberg’s few expressions both by complementing him but also by criticizing him.

Zuckerberg reacting to Senator Tillis’ joke about deleting haters from his Facebook friend’s list
Zuckerberg reacting to Senator Tillis’ statement “I’m a proud member of Facebook, just got a post from my sister”
Zuckerberg reacting to senator Tillis’ ironic question: “When developing Facebook in your dorm, how many people did you have in his regulatory affairs division”

We must be careful in interpreting facial expressions as they depend on many things, such as context: Is a frown indicating emphasis to a point, or an aggressive reaction to a difficult question? Is a smile a reaction to some funny comment, or perhaps a mask for some other emotional state? Behavioral analysts can answer these questions quickly and accurately with the help of FaceReader! For more information on FaceReader contact us.

Disclosure: VicarVision does not wish to support or accuse Mr. Zuckerberg of anything he may have said during the hearings, and merely wish to present the benefits of automatically quantifying human facial expression.