Mark Zuckerberg ripped by European Parliament for dodging questions


Mark Zuckerberg just testified to the European Parliament - and it was a wash-out.

Lukasz Olejnik, a security researcher, tweeted: "Not sure if the intent of the European Parliament was offering space and time to improve the image of Facebook following the Congressional hearing, but it worked".

Jan Philipp Albrecht, a key MEP on data protection issues who was invited to the meeting, said Parliament should have insisted on a question-and-answer format and "not lengthy statements and a lengthy answer from Mr Zuckerberg".

So far, only British lawmakers have succeeded in pinning Facebook down on substantive issues, when Mike Schroepfer, the company's chief technology officer, visited last month.

Nor did he directly answer questions about shadow profiles or whether non-Facebook users' data should be collected.

Mr Zuckerberg declined to answer specific questions on the cross-use of data from Facebook, its WhatsApp messaging service which has more than one billion daily users, and the blocking of target ads.

"You asked for this format for a reason", Lamberts told Zuckerberg.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, who was perhaps the most feisty of the lawmakers, asked whether Facebook would compensate its users, a provision included in the GDPR (a common argument among Facebook observers is that users are actually free laborers for the company, and advertisers are the real customers). Facebook apparently only gave some guidelines about Mark Zuckerberg's time.

He will also apologise for failing "to take a broad enough view" of the company's responsibilities, "whether it's fake news, foreign interference in elections or developers misusing people's information". Nearly certainly not. Zuckerberg offered answers that were in many ways facsimiles of those he offered Congress a little more than a month ago, even though numerous questions on Tuesday were significantly different.

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In that spirit, Zuckerberg said Facebook was bringing in new features including a special "clear history" button that would allow them to delete any cookies or browsing history details it stores.

"That was a mistake, and I'm sorry for it".

Unlike his testimony in the US, where members of Congress took turns questioning Zuckerberg and hearing his answers, the European politicians all spoke first and then Zuckerberg addressed their questions in one long statement at the end. The German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, one of the architects of the General Data Protection Regulation, which dictates how personal information is handled in the European Union, prevented him from doing so. Zuckerberg responded that Facebook had "never made a decision about what content was allowed on the basis of political orientation".

Zuckerberg will stress Facebook's commitment to Europe, where it will employ 10,000 people by the end of the year, according to pre-released remarks.

Zuckerberg was asked why the social network needs to retain data on non-Facebook users, and what recourse those people have to stop being tracked.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova recently paid Zuckerberg a backhanded compliment for having admitted that the Facebook scandal showed the need for strict new rules despite the reluctance of U.S. internet giants.

"You have to ask yourself how you will be remembered".

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.

What's more, Zuckerberg's comments to European lawmakers about the GDPR - expressing his support, while rolling out the tools necessary to comply in order to appear ahead of the game - bear a striking similarity to something Zuckerberg told CNN's Laurie Seagall in March.

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