In yesterday’s European Parliament meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer grilled the Facebook CEO about the company’s dubious practices, from breaching users’ data privacy to lobbying in Brussels against citizens’ data protection.
Zimmer blamed the social media platform for helping to spread fake news and misinformation – with tragic consequences – and said that it must do more to counter sexism online.
She also criticised the format of the hearing which took place behind closed doors and was only streamed via the internet:
“I wonder why it wasn’t possible to have an open, public meeting in the first place. After all, you speak about transparency and bringing people together for debate as the basic idea of Facebook,” she told Zuckerberg.
The German MEP also criticised Zuckerberg for leaving 1.5 billion Facebook users out of reach of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect on25th May:
“The GDPR will drastically raise the standards for privacy and heighten responsibility for companies over the treatment of users’ data. But when GDPR comes into effect this Fridayfor EU citizens, 1.5 billion users in in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will be left out. By excluding them, Facebook is showing that it is not serious about privacy across the board – especially when claiming the regulation will be implemented only ‘in spirit’.”
Zimmer pointed out the origins of Facebook as a platform to rate female students as ‘hot’ or ‘not’ and sought answers on how the company’s approach to sexism has evolved since then, given the hate speech women face online and wider problems of discrimination and violence against women.
Finally, she condemned the cosy relationship between the European Commission and Facebook:
“There have been lots of meetings between the EU and high-ranking Facebook officials. 92 different meetings altogether with millions spent on lobbying work here in the EU. We must starting think about the relationship between power and society,” she concluded.
Full video of Gabi Zimmer’s intervention: https://multimedia.europarl.