Mark Zuckerberg And Nigel Farage Debate Facebook Censorship In European Parliament Forum


The EU is set to adopt a new rule on how companies handle people's personal data, so Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of the EU Parliament to discuss what those changes would look like for Facebook users worldwide.

"Historically, of course, it's true that through Facebook and other forms of social media, there's no way that Brexit or Trump or the Italian election could have ever possibly have happened", Farage told Zuckerberg at a hearing before the European Parliament on Tuesday.

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a mistake and I am sorry for it", he said, effectively repeating a line that he used when testifying before Congress last month.

Zuckerberg meanwhile admitted that Facebook had been "too slow to identify Russian interfering" in the 2016 USA presidential ballot, but was working with European governments for future elections.

"I have no doubt that Mr. Zuckerberg is a genius, but there is a risk his legacy will be that he created a company akin to Frankenstein's monster, which spiraled out of his own control". "While we expect more back and forth between the European Union and Facebook over the coming weeks, we view today as another step forward for Zuckerberg post Cambridge".

Zuckerberg responded: "We weren't prepared enough for the kind of coordinated misinformation campaigns that we're now aware of".

"I'm not generally somebody who calls for legislation on the worldwide stage, but I'm beginning to wonder if we need a social media bill of rights to protect free speech", Farage said.

Facebook is under close examination, but maybe so too should be the way politicians question these incredibly powerful figures.

Last month, Facebook said it had no plans to build a tool to allow non-users to find out what the company knows about them, something that US lawmakers had asked about.

"You have to ask yourself how you will be remembered".

But the format of the testimony stymied any attempts to meaningfully interrogate the 34-year-old CEO or make him answer specific questions about his company's missteps - leaving some of the assembled politicians visibly frustrated.

Initially, Zuckerberg would speak only behind closed doors, prompting a wave of protest from MEPs who argued that the event should be public.

On the need for regulation of social media, he said the question is "what is the right regulation?"

Syed Kamall, co-chair of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), said the hearing only emphasized the lack of knowledge about "the depths that people's data has been abused".

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani defended the Facebook chief's responses.

But in the end, he agreed to have the testimony live streamed. In addition to data privacy, MEPs asked about GDPR compliance, online bullying, hate speech, fake news, electioneering, regulation, Facebook's possible status as a monopoly, and more.

In his responses to questions, which spanned just 25 minutes of the brief meeting, Mr. Zuckerberg apologized once more for the Cambridge Analytica controversy and said Facebook had been too slow to recognize Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

"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". "When Facebook's technical team visit the civil liberties committee it should be organised in such a way to make sure they actually have to directly tackle all our questions, however hard", Kamall said, according to the group's press release. However, the data of all of those foreigners were "European data", according to Verhofstadt, and Facebook shouldn't have been allowed to transfer it. Verhofstadt was one of the MEPs that threatened not to attend if the hearing was restricted from public view.

Asked whether Facebook is ready for the new rules, Zuckerberg responded that it would be from day one.