Friday, 22 March, 2019

Zuckerberg's European Parliament testimony leaves lawmakers frustrated

Zuckerberg's European Parliament testimony leaves lawmakers frustrated Zuckerberg's European Parliament testimony leaves lawmakers frustrated
Patty Aguilar | 23 May, 2018, 18:03

Zuckerberg apologized for how Facebook (FB) handled issues related to fake news, foreign interference in elections and the personal information of its users at the start of the meeting. "Or on the other hand, a genius who created a digital monster that is destroying our democracies and our societies". Philippe Lamberts, Co-Chair of the Greens/European Free Alliance asked six pointed yes or no questions on a range of issues including whether Facebook will offer users a way to opt out of targeted advertising, Facebook's status as a media company, and implored Zuck to release information on the company's daily operations.

"The responses we received today from Mr. Zuckerberg, and indeed the restricted format of the hearing, were totally inadequate", Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt, who fired some of the sharpest barbs during the hearing, said in a statement.

Zuckerberg sought to reassure MEPs that such an incident could not happen under the social network's current rules, and that the new "clear history" privacy tools would give users new controls over their data. "But I'm committed to getting it right, and to making the significant investments needed to keep people safe", he added.

For Europe, the visit from the Facebook CEO comes a just a few days before its landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect (see Yahoo Finance's post for more about this), a move that will restrict how Facebook and other tech companies use data.

The lawmakers were given three minutes each to ask their questions one after another.

Last month, Facebook said it had no plans to build a tool to allow non-users to find out what the company knows about them, something that USA lawmakers had asked about.

Zuckerberg escaped any harsh back and forth because questioning was limited. Weber asked. "Can you convince me not to?"

But Zuckerberg's appearance failed to satisfy MEPs who accused him of dodging questions and criticised a format that gave the parliament's political leaders far more time to give long-winded speeches.

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Numerous members of the parliament skeptically asked Zuckerberg whether his company would be fully compliant with the laws, known as General Data Protection Regulation.

Betraying little emotion, Zuckerberg apologised to leaders of the European Parliament in Brussels for a massive data leak, in his latest attempt to draw a line under the damaging scandal.

Mr Zuckerberg did not address questions about whether Facebook was a monopoly and how it plans to use data from its WhatsApp division. It requires any company that handles the personal data of European Union citizens to protect any of that data that could be used to identify someone, like names, photos or email addresses.

She added: "I would like you to tell us what you are doing to stop the rise of false Facebook accounts which deliberately target young and vulnerable people?"

In his responses to questions, which spanned just 25 minutes of the brief meeting, Mr. Zuckerberg apologized once more for the Cambridge Analytica controversy and said Facebook had been too slow to recognize Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Another lawmaker on the panel reminded Zuckerberg about the question. Though he was there to discuss Facebook's many scandals and screw-ups (including, but not limited to, Cambridge Analytica), the meeting almost verged into scandal territory itself. He wanted Zuckerberg to expand on comments he had made during the previous US congressional hearings during which he said that Facebook collects non-user data for security purposes.

Zuckerberg did not respond to these questions when it came time for his answers, but he pledged that Facebook (fb) would follow up later in writing.

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