While apologizing for the mistakes by the company, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg failed to impress the European lawmakers as he apparently dodged their questions.
Political leaders and lawmakers at the European Parliament in Brussels spent about 8u0 minutes in questioning Zuckerberg on Tuesday.
They were mostly frustrated by his replies. Zuckerberg was accused by them of being general in his replies to queries in the last few minutes of the meeting.
“I asked you six yes and no questions,” Philippe Lamberts, a Green party politician, said. “I got not a single answer.”
Many blamed the setup of the meeting. Three minutes each were allocated to the lawmakers for questioning Zuckerberg one after another. A specific time was allotted to Zuckerberg to answer the questions at the end.
Zuckerberg assured that his company will give answers to each of the questions of the lawmakers in writing in the “next few days” because time was short.
According to the parliament’s spokesperson, this is a standard format for meetings of the group.
However, a full committee meeting was avoided by Zuckerberg and this was complained against by the parliamentarians. The Facebook CEO had done so in the U.S. when he had appeared before the US Senate.
“You asked for this format for a reason,” Lamberts told Zuckerberg.
The format was called “pre-cooked” by Guy Verhofstadt, chair of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and added that it “ensured Zuckerberg could avoid our questions.”
“I trust that written answers from Facebook will be forthcoming,” he wrote on Twitter after the hearing. “If these are not accurately answered in detail, the EU competition authorities must be activated & legislation sharpened.”
The group suggested the breaking up of Facebook into separate companies to increase competition, accused Zuckerberg of censorship and questioned him about fake news and extremist content.
At the beginning of the meeting, the allegations against Facebook of not properly handling of personal information of its users, foreign infringements in elections and fake news were accepted and apologized for by Zuckerberg.
“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a mistake and I am sorry for it,” he said. This is the same line that he had taken when he testified before the U.S. Congress last month.
Zuckerberg has promised to double the number of people working on Facebook’s security and said that the investment will “significantly impact [Facebook’s] profitability.”
“Keeping people safe will always come before maximizing our profits,” he said.
Zuckerberg was also pressed about the issue of extremist content om the social media and the necessity of removal of such content on Facebook. The problem is being tackled by Facebook by a number of features which included the use of artificial intelligence, Zuckerberg said.
Enquiries about the data collection practices by Facebook especially those related to data gathered from non-users were largely avoided by Zuckerberg similar to how he did the same when he appeared before Congress.
“Facebook, and Zuckerberg in particular, has been seen as uncooperative, even actively resistant towards European law and attitudes for a long time,” said Paul Bernal, senior lecturer in IT and media law at the University of East Anglia. “If the authorities decide to play hard ball, Facebook could have a big fight on its hands.”
(Adapted from Money.CNN.com)