Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised to the European Parliament for a massive data leak that put users’ data in the hands of political consultancy group Cambridge Analytica. The CEO met with European Parliament lawmakers on Tuesday, three days before the new EU rules on data protection take effect.
According the Euronews, the meeting on 22nd of May, was attended by the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, the leaders of the parliament’s political groups and the chair of the civil liberties committee, Claude Moraes.
In his opening remarks, Zuckerberg said it had “become clear over the last couple of years that we haven’t done enough to prevent the tools we’ve built from being used for harm as well.”
He said Facebook’s “going even further to comply with the strong rules” of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force for E.U. citizens — and all companies dealing with E.U citizens – on May 25 by introducing similar settings to users around the world. One of the new features poised to roll out is a “clear Facebook history” button.
“Whether it’s fake news, foreign interference in elections or developers misusing people’s information, we didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibilities. That was a mistake, and I’m sorry.”
“I don’t think the question is whether or not there should be regulation. I think the question is what is the right regulation … The important thing is to get this right,” said Zuckerberg.
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has suspended 200 apps from the platform and is still investigating third-party apps that may have access to large quantities of user data.
Zuckerberg stressed that “keeping people safe will always be more important than maximising profits”.
He added the company would be compliant with the new EU rules on data protection.
On whether or not Facebook is a monopoly, the CEO said that Facebook exists in a competitive space where it is constantly forced to update its services to keep up with competitors.
A top priority for Facebook is preventing interference in elections, said Zuckerberg.
The company is building more artificial intelligence tools to identify and take down fake news accounts that might interfere in political elections.
The Facebook CEO also emphasised that his company now works more closely with federal agencies and has increased transparency to prevent interference from happening.
Using AI to fight terrorism content, hate speech
Zuckerberg said the company will hire more people to review content and use AI to flag posts on the site. According to him, Facebook’s AI tools can flag “99 percent” of terror-related content that is removed before anyone else finds it.
Zuckerberg declined to answer specific questions on the cross-use of data from Facebook to its messaging service WhatsApp, the blocking of target ads and how non-users could stop the company from gathering their data, which made some MEPs (Members of the European parliament) displeased with the format of the meeting.
“Unfortunately the format of questioning allowed Mr Zuckerberg to cherry-pick his responses and not respond to each individual point,” said Damian Collins, chair of the UK Parliament’s Digital Culture Media and Sport Committee.
Zuckerberg said he would send follow-up answers later.
The social media giant faced scrutiny earlier this year after it was revealed that British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica worked on US President Donald Trump’s campaign, and acquired the data of 87 million users, including up to 2.7 million in the EU.
Away from Facebook, Zuckerberg welcomed news that now 100 billion messages are shared every day on WhatsApp and Messenger. The firm will continue to develop ecosystems around apps like Instagram to aid businesses. Asked where he sees the future of Instagram, Zuckerberg said he’s seen interesting patterns in how the community is used. He said that while there is no formal Groups product on Instagram, more than two million people use Explore to interact with people and search content outside their friendship group. Hashtag following, which was launched in December, has also proven wildly popular with more than 100 million people follow hashtags. He’s also noticed an increase in the use of private stories. Zuckerberg will be looking to capitalize on these trends.