Mark Zuckerberg has apologized to EU lawmakers for Facebook’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and for allowing fake news to proliferate on its platform.
He apologized for Facebook’s tools being used “for harm”.
However, the Facebook founder’s testimony did not please all lawmakers at the meeting, some of whom felt he had dodged their questions.
Damian Collins, chair of the UK Parliament’s Digital Culture Media and Sport Committee later said the session at the European Parliament had been a “missed opportunity”.
He said: “Unfortunately the format of questioning allowed Mr. Zuckerberg to cherry-pick his responses and not respond to each individual point.”
The format was very different from that of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to US lawmakers last month.
While the US politicians took turns to cross-examine him in a series of back-and-forth exchanges, the leaders of the European Parliament’s various political groups each asked several questions apiece.
Mark Zuckerberg had to wait until they were all delivered before responding.
He spent 22 minutes going through the huge number of questions put to him during the session and was able to pick and choose which to give answers to.
Several of the politicians expressed frustration at this, and one accused Mark Zuckerberg of having “asked for this format for a reason”.
In a follow-up press conference, the parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani, said that the lawmakers had been aware Mark Zuckerberg’s time was limited yet had decided to use up much of the allotted period speaking themselves.
Antonio Tajani also drew attention to the fact that Mark Zuckerberg had agreed to provide follow-up written answers.
Mark Zuckerberg did not address questions about whether Facebook was a monopoly and how it plans to use data from its WhatsApp division.
Nor did he directly answer questions about shadow profiles or whether non-Facebook users’ data should be collected.
Several of the EU lawmakers had also voiced skepticism about the business.
Guy Verhofstadt had asked Mark Zuckerberg if he wanted to be remembered as “the genius who created a digital monster”, which the Facebook boss did not answer.
Leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage expressed his view that Facebook was not a politically neutral platform, asking whether the social network “willfully discriminated” against right-of-centre commentators.
Mark Zuckerberg did respond to this point, saying Facebook had “never made a decision about what content was allowed on the basis of political orientation”.
Tackling other questions, Mark Zuckerberg also said he expected to find other apps that had misused customer data and pointed out that an internal investigation into thousands of third-party developers to see if there similar cases to the Cambridge Analytica scandal would take “many months”.
So far, Mark Zuckerberg said, Facebook had suspended more than 200 apps.