Mark Zuckerberg dodges punches at European Parliament

EU Parliament grills Zuckerberg – but Facebook CEO slips away without giving solid answers

And though the politicians peppered him with dozens of specific questions about Facebook's data-collecting privacies and sought assurances it would be making changes to protect European citizens' information, Zuckerberg remained evasive and repeated his well-worn talking points. Much of the time was taken up with MEPs listing off their questions and concerns, with little time for pushback on Zuckerberg's answers when he was able to deliver them.

Opening the meeting, the president of European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, described as an "alarming scandal" that Facebook had allowed Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, to access the names, "likes" and other personal information for 87 million of the site's users.

In his responses to questions, which spanned just 25 minutes of the brief meeting, Mr. Zuckerberg apologized once more for the Cambridge Analytica controversy and said Facebook had been too slow to recognize Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. "I think it is time to discuss breaking Facebook's monopoly, because it's already too much power in one hand", said Germany's Manfred Weber MEP.

"Will you guarantee that no manipulation from foreign and hostile interference ... on your platform can happen?" asked Bullmann.

On whether or not Facebook is a monopoly, the CEO said that Facebook exists in a competitive space where it is constantly forced to update its services to keep up with competitors. "From where I sit, it feels like there are new competitors coming up every day", he said.

As time ran out, Zuckerberg promised Facebook will respond to each of the lawmakers' questions in writing in the "next few days".

He said: "Since January this year you've changed your modus operandi, you changed your algorithms and it has led directly to a very substantial drop in views and engagements for those that have got right-of-centre opinions". "I think that was the only way because with a written procedure, he can not escape".

Jan Philipp Albrecht, digital policy spokesperson for the Greens in the European Parliament, told DW that Zuckerberg had "lost a lot of credibility", and that "Facebook and other big internet companies realize they can't mess with the EU".

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"He's not obliged to come. He responded to our offer of a meeting", he said. But today, many of those instances were due to close and even personal questioning of the Facebook founder - not from US lawmakers asking how Facebook makes money without charging users, or its stance on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. "This wasn't a mandatory hearing".

Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg faced a barrage of questions from European Parliament leaders in a livestreamed meeting on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old CEO spent about 10 hours testifying in front of the US Congress in April.

Chief executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg told a USA congressional panel last month that it "doesn't feel like" Facebook is a monopoly.

In his monologue of a response, Zuckerberg said the company was investing heavily in artificial intelligence tools to help stem bullying, harassment, and fake news. "That was a mistake and I am sorry for it", he said.

The Silicon Valley billionaire managed to dodge numerous questions posed to him during the informal, 90-minute gathering with members of the Parliament's Conference of Presidents in Brussels. The hearing was originally planned to take place behind closed doors with a select number of MEPs.

"Yes, regulation was important but not so that it might stifle individual creativity; competition wasn't an issue because, as a communications tool, there were multiple communication tools out there; "we always pay our taxes", he said, and he reminded them that Facebook is a major investor in [the European] market".



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