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Zuckerberg accused of avoiding questions in luke-warm European Parliament grilling

FACEBOOK CHIEF Mark Zuckerberg has apologised to the European Parliament for the role that his company played in the Cambridge Analytica affair and the spread of ‘fake news’ – but was criticised over a format that enabled him to pick and choose the questions he answered. 

Indeed, many MEPs in attendance complained that the format meant that Zuckerberg had to wait for all of the leaders of the European Parliament’s various political groups – who, of course, all love the sound of their own voice – to ask several questions apiece before he could respond. Zuckerberg could then pretty much decide which questions he condescended to respond to.

As a result, Zuckerberg spent a total of just 22 minutes answering questions, missing out any he didn’t like the sound of. 

In a follow-up press conference, a Facebook spokesperson said that the MEPs had been aware of the tech chief’s limited time, but decided to use up much of the allotted period speaking themselves, rather than letting Zuckerberg answer.

Unfortunately the format of questioning allowed Zuckerberg to cherry-pick his responses and not respond to each individual point

However, the spokesperson added that Zuckerberg will provide follow-up written answers to the questions he didn’t get time to answer.

UK Digital Culture Media and Sport Committee chairman, Damian Collins, described the session at the European Parliament as a “missed opportunity”. 

He continued: “Unfortunately the format of questioning allowed Zuckerberg to cherry-pick his responses and not respond to each individual point.” 

The testimony took place just a week after the Committee chair slammed Facebook, labelling the social network “disappointing” for not being completely transparent following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

After Facebook “did not provide a sufficient level of detail and transparency” in evidence before his Committee, Collins claimed in an open letter published on Wednesday that the social media giant is not taking the whole thing as seriously as it says it is.

He continued: “It is disappointing that a company with the resources of Facebook chooses not to provide a sufficient level of detail and transparency on various points, including on Cambridge Analytica […] and that shows general discrepancies between Mike Schroepfer [the company’s chief technology officer] and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s respective testimonies.” 

The Facebook CEO is still refusing to come to the UK to answer the Committee’s questions in person – no doubt because it won’t agree to fix the format in his favour as the European Parliament did. µ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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