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article imageZuckerberg to answer European MPs' questions behind closed doors

By Ken Hanly     May 17, 2018 in Business
Brussels - Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to answer the questions of European parliamentarians about the impact Facebook has on the privacy of European citizens.
A closed meeting with minimal information
The meeting with Zuckerberg, however, will be behind closed doors with only a handful of chosen Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) being present to witness what he says. The private meeting will take place on May 22 in Brussels. After the meeting, the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani will hold a press conferences to provide the media with the official version of events.
The doors are being closed to journalists and ordinary citizens who surely would like to know exactly what Zuckerberg had to say rather than just a vetted official version. The European meeting is in stark contrast with Zuckerberg's appearance before the US Congress of which hours of the hearings were taped and can be found on You Tube as in the appended video.
Even the contents of the meeting are only set forth in vague terms. The meeting is designed it is said "to clarify issues related to the issue of personal data" says Tajani in a statement. One aspect was tagged and that was the impact of the platform on electoral processes in Europe.
Zuckerberg has already refused three times to entertain questions in the UK about his platform in public hearings. An article in Techcrunch concludes that Zuckerberg made his appearance before the EU parliamentarians contingent on the meeting being closed. Perhaps, Zuckerberg did not enjoy the public grilling he suffered in the United States.
One of the privacy principles that Facebook promotes is that it is accountable. However, it seems that in Europe at least it is not accountability to reporters or the ordinary citizen. Techcrunch has asked Zuckerberg why he will not take the EU parliamentarians' questions in a public hearing or go to a similar hearing in London but so far has had no response.
Some negative reactions to closed door meeting
Vera Jourova, the EU commissioner for justice and consumers said in a tweet that it was a pity that Zuckerberg does not believe that all Europeans deserve to know how their data is handled by his company not just a few holding elected office. She pointed out that there are more Facebook users in the EU than in the US itself.
Another member, Guy Verhofstadt said that he would not attend a meeting with Zuckerberg if it is held behind closed doors.
According to an EU parliamentary source about half the groups wanted an open hearing with the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and only a slight majority of the Conference of Presidents agreed to a closed meeting.
The article concludes by noting that Zuckerberg has shown how much privacy matters, at least to him personally.
Facebook is a US-based online social media and social networking company with headquarters in Menlo Park California. Its website was launched in February of 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg along with several fellow Harvard College students and roommates.
Facebook had its first initial public offering(IPO) as a stock in February of 2012 eight years later. It reached a peak market capitalization of $104 billion just a few short months later a new record.
Most Facebook revenue comes from ads on the platform. The company has more than 2.2 billion monthly active users as of January this year. There has been considerable scrutiny of the company of late over issues of privacy and the psychological effect it may have on users. There is an enormous amount of fake news, hate speech, and depictions of violence that the company is attempting to counteract. It has also been criticized for allowing Russian influence on the last US election by publishing many ads linked to Russian sources.
Just recently on May 1st the company announced it was launching a new dating service. CEO Zuckerberg said: "There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there's something to do here". However, in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which personal data was used without permission, friends will be unable to view one's dating profile.
More about Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, Privacy, meps
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