European Interest

European lawmakers grill Zuckerberg


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the European Parliament in Brussels on May 22. In testimony that was streamed live to the public, he apologised for Facebook’s role in election interference, fake news, and Cambridge Analytica data misuse.

“We weren’t prepared enough for the kind of coordinated misinformation operations that we are now aware of [back in 2016 during the election],” Zuckerberg said. “We’ve made these kinds of attacks much harder to do on Facebook.”

As reported by Yahoo Finance online, the visit from the Facebook CEO comes a just a few days before its landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect, a move that will restrict how Facebook and other tech companies use data.

“We have a big problem here and it’s not gonna be solved by saying, ‘we’ll fix it ourselves,’” said Guy Verhofstadt, a Member of European Parliament of Belgium. Verhofstadt’s questions probed whether Facebook is a monopoly, comparing Facebook to a car company telling people, “we don’t have a monopoly, you can take a train or a plane.”

Zuckerberg also fielded questions from France’s Front National and the UK’s Nigel Farage, the architect of Brexit, over a perceived bias.

“We have never and will not make decisions about what content is allowed or how we do ranking on the basis of political orientation,” Zuckerberg said in response. He attributed the perception of political bias to the fact that Facebook has moved to promote posts from users’ friends and family over those of public accounts.

In a separate report, CNN noted that Zuckerberg stuck to the “high level” themes of the questions, repeating well-rehearsed lines about regulation being inevitable and downplaying concerns about Facebook’s monopoly power.

He initially avoided thorny questions about Facebook’s data collection practices. As he sought to bring his remarks to a close, some members protested.

Zuckerberg was clearly trying to avoid yet another public spectacle with regulators after testifying for nearly 10 hours before the United States Congress last month.

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