Zuckerberg hails Ireland as proof of Facebook's commitment to EU

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"Mark Zuckerberg is getting away without responding to citizens concerns".

BRUSSELS-Mark Zuckerberg apologized to European Union lawmakers over the fake-news and privacy scandals engulfing Facebook Inc., but rebuffed suggestions that the company has outsize market power and avoided responding to many hard questions.

For example, Zuckerberg faced a sustained line of questioning about how Facebook builds "shadow profiles" on non-Facebook users and whether users can opt out - but Zuckerberg barely touched upon this in his responses. "I asked you six yes-or-no questions and got not a single answer, and of course, well, you asked for this format for a reason", stated one member of Parliament.

Commenting on allegations of political bias, Zuckerberg said Facebook was dedicated to being a platform for all ideas: "I can commit to you here today that we have never and will not make decisions about what content is allowed or how we do ranking on the basis of a political orientation". "Or on the other hand, a genius who created a digital monster that is destroying our democracies and our societies".

Udo Bullman, the leader of the Socialists & Democrats group, echoed that frustration and called for another meeting to grill Zuckerberg on privacy.

"The format of the meeting was a farce", he said. "Can you convince me not to do so?" he asked.

Lukasz Olejnik, a security researcher, tweeted: "Not sure if the intent of the European Parliament was offering space and time to improve the image of Facebook following the Congressional hearing, but it worked".

He conceded that Facebook hasn't "done enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm...and that goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections and developers misusing people's information". I am very sorry!

However, Mr Zuckerberg did not directly respond to the case of Ronan Huges. "Would you co-operate with anti-trust authorities and open your books so we can see if, yes or no, there is a monopoly?" he asked.

Zuckerberg said the company will hire more people to review content and use AI to flag posts on the site. The latter question is crucial, considering that so much user data - collected by 200 now-suspended apps - may already be out there.

In the session, Manfred Weber, a centre-right leader in the European Parliament and an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, asked Zuckerberg why Facebook should not be broken up as a monopoly.

But, in responding to questions, he did not address Facebook's decision to move data stored on 1.5 billion non-EU subscribers out of the European Union - specifically from Ireland - so that they would not be affected by the new regulations. Zuckerberg later answered that the algorithm change affected all public pages, not just those on the right.

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on Friday, aims to give users more control over how their personal information is stored and used online, with big fines for firms that break the rules. His answers on GDPR lasted about three minutes.

In Brussels, much of the discussion centered on the potential impact of social media and privacy worries on Europe's elections that are slated for next year.

Initially, Zuckerberg would speak only behind closed doors, prompting a wave of protest from MEPs who argued that the event should be public. However, the meeting is the clearest signal yet that European regulators, who have a long track record of going after tech powerhouses, are planning to strike a more aggressive position toward the industry than their counterparts in the United States.

"We are at the crossroads, and in a critical situation, because your business practices touch upon two basic values of our societies", Bullmann said.

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