Zuckerberg preaches that Artificial Intelligence will protect Data Privacy in Facebook whereas Verhofstadt demands the big European state to take charge

Facebook Zuckerberg European Parliament 2018

(The European Sting, 2018)

Earlier this evening Mark Zuckerberg accepted the invite by the European Parliament in Brussels for a much discussed Q&A on Data Privacy in the EU. The European Sting was at the EP to report live.

 

The major EU politicians and heads of European political parties tried to corner Facebook’s founder with tough questions about data privacy post the Cambridge Analytica scandal era.

Nevertheless, the answers of Mark Zuckerberg were confined to a summary of his main points at the US Congress last month.

First, he talked about how Facebook has been successful in excluding ISIS content and content of users that express their will to create harm to others or themselves. He also vaguely reiterated once more that Facebook has created AI tools and hired staff to accomplish the latter.

“We will never be perfect” though he underscored.

On fake news he stressed that nobody on Facebook wants fake news. He said that they had broken down the problem to three main sources of content:

A) The first category is not politically motivated, it’s rather economically motivated. Facebook faced that by preventing them from using Facebook ads.

B) The second source is fake accounts who are spreading misinformation. Zuckerberg said his organisation has developed systems to contemplate with that, by identifying fake accounts.

C) As for the last fake news category, it is originated by people who are well being but often publish something false. Facebook then works with fact checkers. If a number of fact checkers say that what is posted is not true then Facebook eventually blocks that content.

When it comes to elections, Mr Facebook acknowledged that there are a lot of important elections coming up in Europe like Slovenia, Sweden and the European parliament. That is a top priority for Facebook. He works to make sure that they create Artificial Intelligence tools within a close cooperation. Facebook makes use of various transparency tools around the world.

As for regulation, he argued that the key is not whether or not there should be regulation but what is the right level of regulation. The important thing is to get this right, he added. He continued by saying that “we need” to have regulatory frameworks that are flexible, that they don’t prevent Artificial Intelligence and make sure that the new startups don’ t have an extra obstacle to build their next empire.

Related to competition, he insisted on saying that the average person uses private messaging, video and other new competitors that come up every day. He underscored that Facebook operates within a competitive environment. As for the business side, Facebook enjoys only 6% of the global advertising market. Clearly, advertising has a lot of choice globally.

Facebook works with 70 million SMEs around the world, 18 million of which are SMEs that use the Facebook tools too. Therefore, the debate shouldn’t be just about advertising space but all this enabling power that Facebook provides.

The overall ecosystem, that is a very important thing to take into account.

On taxes he sounded determined that Facebook has paid all the legal taxes. Moreover, he highlighted that his company employees 10,000 staff in Europe.

“We have always paid the taxes and significant investment for the country and innovation”

Coming down to GDPR, he reassured the EU leaders: “we’ve had a large team to make sure that we are compliant. They’ve been rolling out the GDPR settings for a while now.”

He added that people can come to the Facebook service and share anything they wish. “We don’t censor people what to write about”.  We made a number of changes though. Friends and family and community content is now more important than public content. Also, the users’ well being is being researched. Making sure that people’s use of technology is good for their well being, it has been found to correlate with measures of happiness.

Another “life-saving” modules for Mr Zurckerberg is a clear history feature. Users can clear all browsing data. We don’t have people coming to our service and strip our data, he accentuated.

Some people claim that Cambridge Analytica is the tip of the iceberg. However, the good news is the significant changes that we made to prevent apps from getting access to our level of data.

But because there were a lot of apps, we think it is important to investigate thousands of apps. We took down more than 200. it will take a few more months.

All in all, Facebook’s founder found it right to ignore the essence of the questions by the EU politicians and instead repeat the gist of his answers at the US Congress last month with a few memorised additions on specialised topics like Artificial Intelligence.

On the other hand, already the EU politicians seemed unhappy with the inability of Mr Zuckerberg to elaborate on their questions. They asked the EP President, moderator of this evening’s Facebook meeting, to take note of their questions and ask Mark Zuckerberg to revert later with clear answers.

Will Mr Tajani get Zuckerberg sign in writing a Socrates’ apology with top secret details of the way business operates? We find it quite unlikely. Most probably this evening meeting at the EP, as The Sting witnessed live, was another ambitious attack of politicians, European ones this time, against Facebook just to capitalise politically on the current hype.

Hence, Zuckerberg’s presence at the EP on its own is not seen to contribute neither to a consequential regulation against Facebook nor better protection of the European citizens.

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