Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance in front of the European Parliament was slammed by high-ranking politicians as a farce, as the executive failed to answer the majority of questions.
Zuckerberg (pictured) appeared in front of a small group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to respond to data privacy concerns, fake news claims and the conduct of the social media company in the wake of the well-publicised Cambridge Analytica scandal.
After listening to 45 minutes of unbroken questions and lengthy statements from MEPs, Zuckerberg was given just over 20 minutes to respond, which he did in the form of broad statements covering the main themes.
The hearing was lambasted by Udo Bullmann, MEP and head of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, a group representing 189 MEPs.
“What this meeting made clear is that 75 minutes in a small and exclusive circle is not enough to shed light on the biggest data scandal in recent history,” Bullmann said. “Zuckerberg did not answer many of the direct questions put to him, and the few answers that we heard were disappointing.”
Guy Verhofstadt, head of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, which represents 68 MEPs, said in a statement the meeting was “totally inadequate” and called for stricter regulation and a potential split of the company.
“Mr Zuckerberg has apologised [for the data scandal] tens of times, but the people have had enough,” Verhofstadt said, adding the executive risked a legacy “akin to Frankenstein’s monster”.
While the format proved frustrating for some, Zuckerberg did provide broad answers to many of the concerns raised.
In his responses, the executive pointed to advances made by Facebook to remove inappropriate content using artificial intelligence and an increased focus on proactive moderation. On future rules, Zuckerberg said: “The question is not should there be regulation, but what is the right regulation?”
He noted the company would be fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the May 25 deadline and confirmed the company adhered to all current EU laws, including the historically thorny issue of taxation.
Discussing Cambridge Analytica, Zuckerberg said an update to its policies in 2014 would prevent a similar issue related to any apps added after that date. Apps predating new rules are the subject of an investigation announced earlier in May.
Following criticism on the lack of detailed answers, Zuckerberg said full responses would be provided to individual MEPs following the meeting.
He concluded: “I realise there were a lot of specific questions that I didn’t get to specifically answer, but going around and hearing the themes of what people are concerned about I think I was able to address the high-level areas of each.”