May 22, 2018 / 4:33 PM / a year ago

Highlights - Facebook's Zuckerberg faces European Parliament grilling

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg apologised to the European Parliament on Tuesday for a massive data leak, his latest attempt to draw a line under a scandal that has rocked the world’s biggest social media network.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives at the European Parliament to answer questions about the improper use of millions of users' data by a political consultancy, in Brussels, Belgium May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Please find some of Zuckerberg’s answers to questions from the European lawmakers and, below, his opening remarks.


I don’t think the question here is whether or not there should be regulation, I think the question is: what is the right regulation?

Some sort of regulation is important and inevitable and the important thing is to get this right, and to make sure that we have regulatory frameworks that help protect people that are flexible so that they allow for innovation that doesn’t inadvertently prevent new technologies like AI from being able to develop and of course to make sure that new start-ups, the next student sitting in a college dorm room like I was 14 years ago, doesn’t have an undue burden on being to able build the next great products.


That feels like it’s a competitive environment where there are many choices that people have.

Facebook today is about 6 percent of global advertising market. Clearly advertisers also have a lot of choice in terms of where they chose to advertise.

Around the world there are 70 million small businesses that use Facebook’s tools to grow and reach customers... There is also the extremely pro-competitive effect of enabling all these small businesses to now have access to the same kinds of marketing and advertising... that previously only large businesses had the means to do.


We have the ability to start developing more AI tools, to be able to flag more of the content up front. As a big company, we also have the ability to employ tens of thousands of people to go review more of this content.

If you look for example at terror content, one of the things that I am proud of that our AI systems now can flag 99 percent of the ISIS and al-Qaeda-related content that we have taken down before any person in our community flags that.


Facebook has always paid taxes in all of the countries where we have operations set up. We pay all taxes required by law and we invest heavily in Europe.


We do expect to be fully compliant on May 25.

Starting on May 25, we will start requiring people to go through the flows before they can resume using our services.


We are committed to being a platform for all ideas... It’s very important to me that we are a service that allows for a wide variety of political discourse.

We have never, and will not make decisions about what content is allowed... on the basis of a political orientation.


This is one of our top priorities as a company. It’s just making sure that we prevent anyone from trying to interfere in elections like the Russians were able to in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

The game plan is a combination of building more AI tools... a playbook of closer operation and cooperation with federal election commissions... and increased transparency.


There are 18 million small businesses here in Europe that use Facebook today, mostly for free.

But it’s also become clear over the last couple of years that we haven’t done enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. And that goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections and developers misusing people’s information.

We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a mistake. And I am sorry for it.

It’s going to take time to work through all the changes that we need to make here. But I’m committed to getting this right and to making the significant investments that are necessary to make people safe.

For example, we are doubling the number of people working on safety and security at our company to more than 20 thousand by the end of this year.

On top of the investments we are making in other areas, I expect that these increased investments in security will significantly impact our profitability.

But I want to be clear - keeping people safe will always be more important than maximising our profits.


So far we’ve investigated thousands of apps and we have suspended more than 200.

At the heart of Europe’s new data protection law, the GDPR, are three important principles - control, transparency and accountability. We’ve always shared these values and given people the ability to control what information they share and who they share it with. Now we’re going even further to comply with these strong news rules.


In the next 18 months there are important elections globally, including many here in Europe, as well as for the European Parliament, the United States, Brazil, India and Indonesia.

In 2016, we were too slow to identify Russian interference on Facebook in the U.S presidential election. At the time, we were more focused on more traditional kinds of cyber attacks like phishing and malware.

We weren’t prepared enough for the coordinated misinformation operations that we are now aware of. Since then, we’ve made significant operational investments to protect the integrity of elections by making these kinds of attacks much harder to do on Facebook.

I have more confidence that we are going to get this right going forward because we’ve already done a better job in several important elections since 2016, including the French presidential election, the German elections and the Alabama special election in the U.S. last year.

We’re working with governments and other technology companies to share information about threats in real time. For example in Germany, before the 2017 elections, we worked directly with the German federal office for information security.

We’re also using new technology including AI to remove fake accounts that are responsible for much of the false news, misinformation and bad adds that people can see on Facebook. In the run-up to the 2017 French presidential election, our systems found and took down more than 30,000 fake accounts.

And in the Alabama special election in the US, we were able to proactively detect and remove fake accounts from Macedonia that were trying to spread disinformation.

We’re making the advertising on Facebook much more transparent.

Security is not a problem that you can ever fully solve. We face sophisticated, well-funded adversaries who are constantly evolving. But we’re committed to continue to invest heavily and improve our technique to make sure we stay ahead.

Almost 400 million people in Europe rely on our services to connect and communicate... By the end of 2018, Facebook will employ 10,000 people across 12 European cities, up from 7,000 today. And we will continue to invest in Europe in the years ahead, including we’ve committed to providing 1 million people in small businesses with digital skills training by 2020.

Compiled by Robert-Jan Bartunek, Gabriela Baczynska, Alastair Macdonald, Robin Emmott and Julia Fioretti

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