According to Independent UK; CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckeberg will face a public grilling at the European Parliament on Tuesday, after a rebellion by MEPs over plans to hold the meeting in private. The Facebook founder is going to Brussels to answer questions about his company’s policies on personal data, privacy, and the social network’s impact on elections facing an interrogation by leaders of the assembly’s political groups. Mr. Zuckerberg has so far refused similar requests to appear at the UK Parliament, prompting British MPs to warn that they might issue a formal summons for him to appear. In April he spent two days testifying before the US Congress.
Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, announced last week that the meeting would be held behind closed doors. However, on Monday he confirmed it would be lives-streamed over the internet, following interventions in public and behind the scenes by the socialist, liberal, and green groups. Mr Tajani said,“I have personally discussed with Facebook CEO Mr Zuckerberg the possibility of web-streaming the meeting with him,” “I am glad to announce that he has accepted this new request. Great news for EU citizens. I thank him for the respect shown towards European Parliament. Meeting tomorrow from 18:15 to 19:30.” In addition to Mr. Zuckerberg’s visit, representatives from Facebook management are set to appear before the European Parliament’s justice and home affairs committee at a later date to answer more detailed questions.
Tuesday’s meeting will consist of Mr Zuckerberg, Mr Tajani, and the chair of the Parliament’s home affairs committee, British Labour MEP Claude Moraes. They will also be joined by the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups: the centre-right EPP, the centre-left socialists, the liberal ALDE, the right-wing ECR, the eurosceptic EFFD, the Greens, the Left, and the far-right ENF. Notable figures among the leaders include Nigel Farage, who leads the EFFD, Manfred Weber, an ally of Angela Merkel who leads the largest EPP group, and Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the liberals. Mr Moraes said he would “ask searching questions on behalf of 500 million Europeans”. He pledged to grill the Facebook CEO on the allegations surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal. He added: “The announcement … shows where the real influence lies, and where the best forum is to unearth the facts – highlighting how, post-Brexit, the UK will have no platform to question him if he continues to snub Westminster.”
The Facebook CEO has been invited to appear before the British Parliament but has so far declined. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which asked him to attend one of its sessions, has said it will issue a “formal summons for Mr. Zuckerberg to appear when he is next in the UK”. Contempt of Parliament is an offence in the UK, though it has been untested in the courts in recent times.