Cambridge Analytica was the third-party data provider that was allowed to access profiles on up to 87 million Facebook users and their friends, and it has been accused of abusing that data to influence elections in the US and United Kingdom.
Mark Zuckerberg probably brought the same written statements he had read to the U.S. Congress last month to Brussels for Tuesday’s testimony in front the European Parliament.
In a follow-up press conference, Mr Tajani added that the MEPs had been aware Mr Zuckerberg’s time was limited yet had made a decision to use up much of the allotted period speaking themselves.
European representatives all asked their questions first, and then Zuckerberg responded to all of them in one go.
Zuckerberg had sought to avoid the spectacle of publicly testifying before European lawmakers, after almost 10 hours of grilling last month by members of Congress.
But several EP members were not satisfied with the answers provided in the hearing. The lawmakers were given three minutes each to ask their questions one after another. And he flatly ignored questions about whether the company would commit to publishing breakdowns of its legal entities and financials in the countries it operates, as well as a question on whether he would let users opt out of targeted advertising altogether. He added that the social network would be GDPR-compliant by the time the new data protection regime comes into force on Friday (25 May).
He also said that Facebook is ready to follow GDPR, which includes rules like making companies get consent if they plan to use an European Union resident’s personal data.
Lawmakers criticized Facebook for nearly an hour, Zuckerberg let it slip that Facebook is not planning on deleting all the data it has on non-Facebook users, and the whole affair ended dramatically, with multiple Members of Parliament (MEPs) yelling at Zuckerberg, calling him out on his evasiveness.
“Mr. Zuckerberg’s apologies are not enough”.
For GDPR compliance, lawmakers wanted to know how Facebook could possibly adopt GDPR standards, when it has specifically taken steps to limit the scope of GDPR for non-EU citizens. “We’re going to have someone come to do a full hearing soon to answer more of the technical questions as well”.
The moves are part of a long list of actions by European regulators against USA -based tech giants. But when it came to what must have been his primary intention with the hearing, namely convincing lawmakers that Facebook doesn’t need even stricter regulation, he fell short. Zuckerberg immediately trotted out his dorm room story of not expecting Facebook’s current duty to safety and democracy, and repeated his pledge to broaden the company’s responsibility.
Against this backdrop, Trump supporters and others have accused the progressive tech giants of engaging in censorship of right-wing websites and individuals (or those perceived as harboring those leanings) through methods such as the above-referenced algorithm changes, or shadow banning, throttling, de-platforming, and de-monetization, or artificially trending or not trending certain topics.
The Facebook co-founder also rejected claims of liberal bias, restating his view of Facebook as a platform where people across the political spectrum can exchange ideas. “Who decides what [content] is acceptable?”
For his part, Zuckerberg profusely apologized, but unless Facebook genuinely takes a proactive tack on this issue, instead of reacting to problems as they arise, it’s hard to see how anything of substance is changing. Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, and Zuckerberg was asked what competition exists in the marketplace. Well… can’t get much worse, eh?
Soon others joined in, shouting out their unanswered questions.