Tech

Zuckerberg expected to apologize to EU Facebook users

Mark Zuckerberg is expected apologize to Facebooks European users on Tuesday for the firms failure to stop the misuse of peoples data on the network, and for the spread of fake news during a series of elections across the Continent over the past 18 months.

His mea culpa — the latest effort by Facebooks chief executive to apologize for an ongoing scandal linked to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm — will come as part of an hourlong meeting that Zuckerberg will hold with European politicians in Brussels.

The social networking giant has faced a growing backlash from regulators, lawmakers and the general public about how it handles peoples online information, as well as how Facebook may have been used to sway potential voters during a spate of recent elections worldwide.

Confronted with this widespread anger, particularly in Europe where peoples privacy is viewed on par with other fundamental rights like freedom of speech, Facebooks chief executive is expected to acknowledge Tuesday that the company did not do enough to clamp down on such behavior across its global network of more than 2 billion users.

“Whether its fake news, foreign interference in elections or developers misusing peoples information, we didnt take a broad enough view of our responsibilities,” Zuckerberg is expected to say in his opening remarks in Brussels today. “That was a mistake, and Im sorry.”

His statement to EU lawmakers comes just over a month after the Facebook chief made an almost identical apology to American politicians. Over hours of testimony on Capital Hill, he similarly acknowledged that the social network had not done enough to prevent its digital tools from being misused by online tricksters and foreign governments, notably Russia.

“It will take time to work through all of the changes we must make,” Zuckerberg is expected to tell EU politicians Tuesday. “But Im committed to getting it right, and to making the significant investments needed to keep people safe.”

In April, U.S. officials were quick to admonish the 34-year-old tech mogul for his companys role in spreading misinformation and for the misuse of peoples data. European lawmakers and regulators similarly have opened a series of investigations into Facebooks handling of individuals data, threatening new legislation and potential fines against the tech giant for failing to uphold the regions tough privacy standards.

According to Facebooks internal figures, roughly 2.7 million Europeans were caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved a third-party app connected to the data analytics firm collecting reams of peoples Facebook data without their consent. In total, 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have had their information harvested by the app developer.

Zuckerbergs visit to Brussels is part of a weeklong tour of Europe, which also includes two days of events in France, whose president, Emmanuel Macron, has both wooed tech companies to come to the country and threatened new digital taxes against some of Silicon Valleys biggest names.

Not everyone, though, welcomed Zuckerbergs decision to meet solely EU parliamentarians as part of Facebooks global efforts to answer questions about its data practices and role in national elections.

Damian Collins, the British lawmaker in charge of the United Kingdoms lengthy investigation into fake news, called on the U.S. tech executive to give testimony to his countrys parliament after Zuckerberg had declined the offer. Cambridge Analytica was a British company, Collins added, and Facebook owed U.K. politicians answers over how peoples data may have been misused.

“The Facebook data breach was executed in the U.K.,” said Collins. “The U.K. parliament should be able to question Mark Zuckerberg about this and the lessons to be learned from it.”

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