World Media

European Lawmakers Disappointed at Facebook CEO's Testimony

European Lawmakers Disappointed at Facebook CEO's Testimony

While the questions were more pointed than those asked by USA congress, the overall feel with Zuckerberg seated next to Parliament members rather than in the hotseat before them gave the meeting a less consequential tone.

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility-that was a mistake and I'm sorry".

"We were too slow to identify Russian interference on Facebook in the USA presidential election at the time", he said.

"I have no doubt that Mr. Zuckerberg is a genius, but there is a risk his legacy will be that he created a company akin to Frankenstein's monster, which spiraled out of his own control". "I ask you simply, and that is my final question: can you convince me not to do so?"

The lawmakers took great pains to point out to Zuckerberg that policies that work in the U.S. won't necessarily work in the EU.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani welcomes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the European Parliament
Image European Parliament President Antonio Tajani welcomed the Facebook chief

His comments, sitting at a circular table with EU Parliament leaders, dressed in a suit, tie and white shirt, echo an apology last month to US lawmakers. Zuck gave an actual answer to this question: "On a security side, we think it's important to keep it" - "it" being the data on non-Facebook users - "in order to protect people in our community".

Mr Zuckerberg's words come three days before strict new European Union rules on data protection take effect, with companies risking fines of up to 4% of global turnover for breaching them.

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

The 34-year-old billionaire, who has ignored a summons to appear before the United Kingdom parliament, attempted to allay parliamentarians' anxieties about Facebook's GDPR preparations, alleged political bias and the Cambridge Analytica data grab.

In a follow-up press conference, Mr Tajani added that the MEPs had been aware Mr Zuckerberg's time was limited yet had chose to use up much of the allotted period speaking themselves.

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"The US Congress had the right #hearing format, but asked #Zuckerberg only soft questions". Since no one stopped him, he said he wanted to "be sensitive to time" and ignored questions that some of the more insistent politicians kept repeating, like whether Facebook would allow users to avoid targeted advertising.

Damian Collins, the chair of the British inquiry that has repeatedly asked Zuckerberg to appear before parliament, described the session as "an hour of questions, followed by a lengthy statement from Zuckerberg, with all hard questions dodged".

Similar themes arose in the legislative hearings, including questions today about perceived political bias and whether or not Facebook holds a monopoly over social media.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who welcomed Zuckerberg to the parliament, urged him to ensure people's data were respected. He said that regulations would need to "allow for innovation, don't inadvertently prevent new technologies like AI from being able to develop, and of course to make sure that new startups - the next student sitting in a college dorm room like I was - doesn't have an undue burden in being able to build the next great product".

Zuckerberg was grilled by lawmakers on Capitol Hill over the Cambridge Analytica scandal last month.

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Asked whether Facebook is ready for the new rules, Zuckerberg responded that it would be from day one.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People's party in the European Parliament, kicked off questioning during the hearing on Tuesday by first commending Zuckerberg for apologizing for the company's lapses and voluntarily appearing for the hearing.

That doesn't change the fact that Facebook dominates the channel for many advertisers, especially small businesses, as Zuckerberg himself argued later that over 70 million small businesses use Facebook as a primary tool to grow their business.

Zuckerberg will go on to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday but has so far declined to appear in front of British lawmakers.

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Morgan Securities plc is acting as sole financial adviser to iZettle, while Gernandt & Danielsson is acting as its legal adviser. US -based PayPal already operates in more than 200 countries around the world but is working to expand its offerings.


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