The Industry

Mark Zuckerberg Agrees to Meet With EU Leaders

Zuckerberg declined to testify before UK officials, but may meet with the EU as early as next week.
Zuckerberg declined to testify before UK officials, but may meet with the EU as early as next week.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with representatives of the European Parliament in Brussels “as soon as possible,” according to an announcement Wednesday from its president, Antonio Tajani. The meeting could be as early as next week, and the parliament also plans to organize a hearing with Facebook concerning personal data security and the impact of social media on European elections. Tajani wrote, in part, “Web giants must be responsible for the content they publish, including blatantly false news and illegal content.”

This announcement comes only two days after Facebook rebuffed the UK parliament’s threat to issue a formal summons for Zuckerberg to testify before the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee. The company’s CTO, Mike Schroepfer, appeared before UK lawmakers in April, but the head of the committee found his testimony to be unsatisfactory.

“We were disappointed after providing a very significant amount of information to the Committee at the last hearing the Committee declared our response insufficient,” Facebook’s head of public policy in the UK wrote in a statement. “While Mr. Zuckerberg has no plans to meet with the committee or travel to the UK at the present time we continue to fully recognize the seriousness of these issues and remain committed to working with you to provide any additional relevant information you require for your inquiry into fake news.”

It’s unclear why Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with officials in the EU and not the UK. The decision may have to do with the union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which grants users with more control over their privacy and personal data. Companies that operate in the EU will have to comply with the regulations by next week. Zuckerberg has agreed to follow the new rules and (perhaps misleadingly) pledged to extend its privacy controls to all users. However, Reuters reported last month that Facebook had moved data processing for international users outside of the EU from Ireland to the U.S., which effectively means that 1.5 billion users won’t be covered by GDPR.