European Parliamentarians Quiz Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the European Parliament.
Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the European Parliament.(Photo: AP)

European Parliamentarians Quiz Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is speaking at the European Parliament on Tuesday, May 22, sharing his company’s plans to tackle data privacy concerns that have been raised since the Cambridge Analytica episode. Zuckerberg will try to reassure European Facebook users of the safety of their data ahead of the European privacy laws or GDPR that roll out on May 25.

European parliamentarians will ask questions first, and Zuckerberg will answer all of them together, in a rather strange format. It’s easy for Zuckerberg to miss a few.

The Facebook CEO will answer the committee members, who’ll want to know how the social networking platform will cater to the data privacy needs of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) to be implemented later this month.

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KEY EVENT

Zuckerberg Makes A Statement

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is invited to speak by Antonio Tajani, the president of European Parliament. Zuckerberg talks about the strategy that Facebook will implement to ensure all users and their data are secure.

“We're making advertising much more transparent on the platform,” he said.

Mark Zuckerberg at the European Parliament. 
Mark Zuckerberg at the European Parliament. 
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

He further added that Facebook is testing new tools in Canada and Ireland which shows all the ads that the user will see. “They can choose to turn off the ones they don't want to see,” says Zuckerberg.

KEY EVENT

European Consumers Worried

“Consumers are worried in Europe”, says Manfred Weber, Member of European Parliament from Germany.

“You have shared the steps Facebook will be taking to fix the issue, but this is not enough, it's about acting on such issues,” Weber points out.

Manfred Weber, MEP, Germany asking his question. 
Manfred Weber, MEP, Germany asking his question. 
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

“Can you guarantee the Europeans that another CA like episode will not happen?” he continues with his question to Zuckerberg.

KEY EVENT

Facebook Ready to Comply with GDPR?

“Are you ready to comply with European regulations in three days?” questions a very concerned, Udo Bullmann, Social Democrat from Germany. He also wants to know whether Zuckerberg and Facebook can guarantee that they will not sell any data of Facebook users.

KEY EVENT

What about Data of Non-Facebook Users?

Rather than highlighting the concerns of existing Facebook users, Syed Kamal, British member of European Parliament wants to know “how can non-users of the platform stop Facebook from collecting their data.”

Many of these questions are similar to the ones the Zuckerberg faced in the US Senate.

Also Read : Zuckerberg vows to revamp Facebook, admits his own data was shared

Syed Kamall, British member of European Parliament
Syed Kamall, British member of European Parliament
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)
KEY EVENT

Mark Zuckerberg: Monster or Genius?

Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian member of European Parliament is candid in his questions to Zuckerberg and wants to know if Facebook can open its books for the European Parliament to see if they are a monopoly.

“Can you split up Facebook Messenger and keep Instagram?” asks Verhofstadt.

Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian member of European Parliament
Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian member of European Parliament
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

He also asks if Zuckerberg would like to be remembered like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs for their noble deeds and contribution to the world.

“Or do you want to be remembered as a genius who created a monster?” he asks.

KEY EVENT

Who Works For Facebook?

Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian politician, wants to know if Facebook can allows users to opt out of targeted advertising and whether it's still a neutral platform.

Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian Politician
Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian Politician
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Interestingly, Lamberts also wants to know if Facebook would be willing to publish the list of people it employs along with their salaries.

Will you, Mark?

KEY EVENT

Does Facebook Act Against Sexism?

“There's a lot of fake news on Facebook and this can be deadly for people in other parts of the world. What is Facebook doing to ensure that doesn't happen?” Gabriele Zimmer, EU member from Germany wants to know.

The other important point she wants Zuckerberg to answer is whether Facebook can go back to being just a communication platform. Sharing her concerns for the community in general, Zimmer wants to know if Facebook supports women's rights and acts against sexism.

Facebook's Focus on News

Nigel Farrage, from Britain wants Zuckerberg to explain why Facebook does not offer transparency in the way it works. He also wants Zuckerberg to answer why there are no third-party fact checkers for news that comes out on the Facebook platform.

Nigel Farrage, from Britain
Nigel Farrage, from Britain
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Will GDPR End WhatsApp-Facebook Data Sharing?

Jan Philipp Albrecht who is a German politician is concerned about Facebook and its close data association with WhatsApp. “In US data is collected from logged-out users, can you promise that after GDPR comes in, there will be no exchange of data for WhatsApp and Facebook users?” asks Albrecht.

KEY EVENT

Mark Answers European Parliament

“Our policy has always been for people to report inappropriate content to us and then we take action,” says Mark Zuckerberg, answering the questions posed by the European Parliament.

“But now we are trying to get more AI tools to be able to flag content faster. We took down 580 million fake accounts in the last quarter,” he adds. To further work against the malaise of fake news, Zuckerberg said, “We're working to identify fake accounts, filter them in the early stage, before they end up sharing violent content.”

He further added that Facebook will work with third-party fact checkers, who will make sure that a story carries all the required details and shares the correct information.

Facebook to Comply With GDPR

“We will be fully compliant with GDPR which starts from May 25 in Europe.” That was Zuckerberg reassuring concerns which were shared by multiple members of the parliament earlier on Tuesday.

He also admitted that “Facebook has always paid taxes in all the countries it operates and Facebook is building two data centres in Europe to comply with GDPR.”

KEY EVENT

Another Cambridge Analytica Out There?

Most people over the past few months have asked Zuckerberg and Co, as to how they will make sure that no other developer will be able to access users’ data.

“Since 2014 our platform has gone through changes which makes sure developers can't get access to data on our platform,” Zuckerberg assured European Parliament.

Mark Zuckerberg answering questions in EU parliament. 
Mark Zuckerberg answering questions in EU parliament. 
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

He also highlighted that Facebook’s team has taken down over 200 apps and are investigating some more to ensure that no other company is able to misuse data of its users.

“This is not any different from how we have worked before, as we had people reporting such issues. Now we are proactively taking steps, even before someone reports to us about it,” Zuckerberg added.

On Facebook's Apparent Political Bias

“I can commit to you here today that we have not and will not make decisions about what content is allowed or how we do ranking on the basis of political orientation,” Zuckerberg assured, when asked about Facebook and its recent involvement in events like elections.

He even referred to the point that Facebook has made multiple changes to make sure users see more content from their family and friends. “We’ve made a number of changes this year to ensure we’re showing people’s friends and families content more than content in general. It is not targeting any specific political ideology,” he added.

KEY EVENT

Zuckerberg Leaves the Room

As Mark looks to end the session and make his way out of the room, few members raise concerns about how this so-called meeting didn’t turn out to be the debate they wanted. To which Zuckerberg refuses to answer and assures them of a response by his team in writing.

That’s the end of the short appearance in front of the European Parliament for the Facebook CEO, which honestly didn’t give us much clarity on whether Facebook and WhatsApp will continue to share data with each other.

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