Mark Zuckerberg, during his appearance before a committee of the US Congress, on April 11 in Washington
After several weeks of negotiations, the president and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, finally agreed to meet with MEPs in Brussels, although behind closed doors, to explain the use of private data of millions of users after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Zuckerberg „will be in Brussels as soon as possible, I hope it will be next week“ to meet with the presidents of the different parliamentary groups, announced on Wednesday the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani in a statement.
This meeting will be held behind closed doors during a „conference of presidents“, which traditionally takes place on Thursday, said a source in Parliament.
The format of the meeting, without cameras, will therefore prevent Zuckerberg from being subjected to a public interrogation, like the one he had to face for ten hours in the US Congress last month.
The president of the liberal group (Alde), Guy Verhofstadt, warned that he would boycott the meeting if it was held behind closed doors. „It must be a public audience, why not on a Facebook Live?“ Tweeted the former Belgian prime minister.
The French presidency announced that President Emmanuel Macron will receive Zuckerberg, as well as about 50 leaders of large digital companies, next Wednesday May 23 in Paris. Probably the meeting in Brussels will be the next day.
This trip to Europe takes place only a few days before the European regulation on data protection (RGPD) comes into effect on May 25, which obliges internet groups to adapt their conditions of use for EU citizens.
Contacted by the AFP, a Facebook source said that this meeting will be the occasion to „dialogue, listen to their points of view and show the measures“ taken by the internet giant „to better protect the privacy of people.“
– Manipulate opinion –
Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the annual F8 technology convention on May 1 in the California city of San José (western USA)
„Our citizens deserve a full and detailed explanation, I welcome Zuckerberg’s decision to appear in person before the representatives of 500 million Europeans, a step in the right direction towards the restoration of trust,“ Tajani said.
For his part, the German Manfred Weber, head of the European People’s Party (PPE, right), the main group in Parliament, considered that the visit of Zuckerberg meant „a strong message“ towards „European consumers“ who „deserve an appropriate explanation about what happened with your data. “
Since March 20, when scandal erupted over the use of personal data of 10 million Facebook users by the firm Cambridge Analytica, Tajani had invited Zuckerberg to give explanations to the MEPs.
But Mark Zuckerberg declined the invitation and proposed that the vice president of Public Relations of the Californian group, Joel Kaplan, travel to Europe.
With the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which worked for the presidential campaign of Donald Trump in 2016, fears about the manipulation of elections through personal information taken from social networks increased.
Facebook, like Twitter and Google, is also accused as a network that allowed the proliferation of Russian interference aimed at manipulating public opinion during that same campaign in the United States.
Tajani also announced that he will organize „an audience with Facebook and other parties involved“ -but without Zuckerberg-, which allows „to proceed to a thorough analysis of the aspects related to the protection of personal data“.
He insisted on the fact that giants on the web are „responsible for the content they publish, including flagrant false news and illegal content.“