BRUSSELS—Top European lawmakers are set to interrogate
on Tuesday over the company’s handling of alleged data misuse and election interference on the platform, as the tech giant seeks to appease officials in a region where it is regulated strictly.
Roughly a dozen of the European Parliament’s most-senior members and its president are set to press the Facebook CEO on the scandal involving data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which allegedly improperly obtained the personal information of as many as 87 million Facebook users.
Lawmakers say they will seek answers from Mr. Zuckerberg—who has already testified before U.S. senators on the issue—about how Facebook will prevent further scandals like it.
The hearing—in Brussels at 6:30 p.m. Local time, or 12:30 p.m. ET—highlights the widening of the fallout to a region where Facebook and its Silicon Valley rivals have faced regulatory pressure for years.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Zuckerberg is likely to outline the actions the company has taken in response, according to a company spokeswoman.
He is expected to apologize for failing to do enough to combat fake News and foreign interference in elections, or to prevent developers from misusing user information, according to a copy of his remarks pre-released by Facebook.
“It’s also 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,” Mr. Zuckerberg is expected to say. “That was a mistake, and I’m sorry.”
He is expected to stress Facebook’s commitment to Europe, announcing that it will hire 3,000 more employees in the region to reach a total of 10,000 by the end of the year.
Some lawmakers suggested questions could arise about whether the social-media giant should split off certain services if it doesn’t comply with the European Union’s rules. One said they intended to press Facebook over possible compensation for victims of data misuse.
Mr. Zuckerberg will likely face tough questions more specifically over how the social network will comply with the EU’s new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, which enters into force Friday. Jan
the German lawmaker who led the GDPR negotiations for the parliament, is among the questioners and said he would seek clarifications from the company about its privacy-policy updates.
“It’s clear that [the policies] won’t [meet the demands of the GDPR,] so it’s one of the points where Zuckerberg needs to elaborate on,” said Mr. Albrecht.
He said a particular focus is whether all the data Facebook collects on users is truly necessary for the service.
Brussels is the first stop for Mr. Zuckerberg as he seeks to calm tensions with European officials. On Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg will Travel to Paris, where he will attend a government-organized lunch with executives from Uber Technologies Inc.,
and other firms about using technology to promote the common good, and Thursday he will speak at a tech conference. While in town, Mr. Zuckerberg will have a private meeting with French President
“No subject will be avoided,” an official at the French presidential palace said of the meeting with Mr. Zuckerberg. “The president is very direct.”
EU and European national regulators for years have been among the most active world-wide in trying to rein in Facebook. A working group of several EU data-protection watchdogs brought sanctions against the company for prior changes to its privacy policies, though some of those decisions were thrown out in court. Some EU regulators are also investigating the company’s use of data about users of chat app WhatsApp, which it bought in 2014 for $22 billion.
The company has also faced criticism in Europe for its handling of hate speech and terrorist propaganda. The EU has pushed Facebook and other social-media companies to speed up their removal of extremist propaganda and hate speech under threat of new legislation. Germany last year passed a new law threatening social-media companies with fines of up to €50 million ($58.9 million) if they fail to quickly delete hate speech and other illegal content.
Convincing Mr. Zuckerberg to speak was a victory for the 751-member parliament, which is the EU’s most democratic institution but wields little power. Facebook has so far spurned a similar invitation from the U.K. parliament. Mr. Zuckerberg had initially agreed to answer questions in a closed-door meeting. That sparked outrage from many EU politicians and commentators, prompting the parliament to negotiate an agreement to webcast the event.
Source : WSJ