EU politicians took Mark Zuckerberg at a hearing in the European Parliament, although tough, but left the Facebook boss a lot of room to evade, a gift that he cleverly used.
First, the meeting was to take place behind closed doors, then finally agreed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to having a public hearing. The vortex was great in advance, but the result is ultimately disappointing; this is because Zuckerberg dodged almost all unpleasant questions in the European Parliament on May 22, 2018, quite easily. The format of the meeting allowed him the necessary freedom; the group leaders first asked the questions, then Zuckerberg answered collected in the end. According to the European Parliament, such bundling is generally customary at the so-called “Conference of Presidents” with the group of parliamentary group leaders. Speaking after the hearing, Parliament President Antonio said he had proposed the format. But this form of questioning allowed the tech billionaire to respond with generalized answers to the issues raised rather than concrete answers. Annoying because Zuckerberg was taken in the questions much harder than in his hearing marathon in the US Congress on April 11, 2018.
“I am aware that there were many concrete questions that I could not specifically address,” said the Facebook boss at the end. He again apologized for Cambridge Analytica’s recent data scandal. Facebook did not recognize the extent of its responsibility, among other things in the fight against misuse of user information by app developers.
Criticism of Zuckerberg – and the format
Zuckerberg admitted to US Senate mistakes
Essentially, Zuckerberg provided the facts he had already submitted to the US Senate. There, the Facebook boss has already given information. For five hours, the senators asked him about the incidents. John Thune, head of the US Senate Commerce Committee, said at the beginning of the hearing that the time had come for more regulation rather than unilateral pledges from companies. He was not sure that users gave their data to the online companies with full understanding of the consequences. Some senators have shown gaps in understanding how Facebook works and how it operates. One wanted to know about how the online network is financed. Zuckerberg answers in aghast: “Senator, we run ads.” The 33-year-old CEO once again confessed to serious mistakes and promised stricter data protection. Facebook did not recognize the extent of its responsibility, Zuckerberg said and thus adhered to a pre-published statement.
Zuckerberg: Networking more important than advertising
Facebook founder Zuckerberg emphasized that his main priority remains to connect people – this is always more important than the interests of advertisers. He clearly rejected the suspicion that Facebook was listening to user conversations to show them appropriate advertising. The company boss did not answer various detailed questions, but promised that “his team” would subsequently contact the senators. He also had no concrete answer to the question of how long it takes until all data from users are removed when they delete their Facebook account. It is complex and Facebook strives to do that in a reasonable time, said Zuckerberg. He said special investigator Robert Mueller interviewed Facebook employees. Mueller is investigating possible Russian influence in the 2016 US presidential campaign. Zuckerberg himself was not involved.
Facebook data scandal: what happened?
According to media reports, Cambridge Analytica has used/sold, without permission, the data of 70 million American Facebook users. The campaign team of the current US President Donald Trump hired Cambridge Analytica, in 2014. They should develop a program to predict and influence choices. The user profiles generated in this way allowed personalized ads to be shown.
Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica well, because the company said that they had suspended the relationship because of the allegations. The data analysts had been asked to delete the information, but Cambridge Analytica had ignored the request – and Zuckerberg’s company never asked. The data was collected by a British professor who had brought the “This Is Your Digital Life” app on the platform – and secretly passed data from this survey to Cambridge Analytica.
Affected users mostly from the US
Using the app, Cambridge Analytica used this information to access data from up to 87 million social network users. The majority of affected Facebook members come from the US. From the Philippines, Indonesia, and Great Britain; there are about one million users each.
Facebook users upset: #DeleteFacebook
After the scandal became known, the issue quickly grew into a campaign: Under the hashtag #DeleteFacebook, users of the social network use Twitter to inform them that they have deleted their Facebook profile. In addition, prominent users raised their concerned, such as the WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton. He wrote under the hashtag “It’s time.” Whether Acton means so for only Facebook or perhaps for WhatsApp too, that remains unknown. The popular messenger has been part of the billionaire group of Mark Zuckerberg since 2014. A few months ago, Acton withdrew from the company and has since dedicated his own projects – this includes the WhatsApp competitor “Signal.” Entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Elon Musk has also deleted the Facebook pages of his automaker Tesla and its space company SpaceX.
Facebook data scandal: shareholders complain
In addition to the public scandal causing the affair on Facebook, among a financial collapse, CNN and other US media have reported that some shareholders filed law-suits against the world’s largest social network in San Francisco federal court. Facebook has made “factually false and misleading statements” on company policy, it says. There was a dramatic price collapse after the announcement of the data scandal. However, the price of the Facebook share has recovered.
FTC investigation started: What threatens Facebook?
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), meanwhile, has confirmed investigations against Facebook. The Commission takes the reports on the outflow of user data from Facebook users to analytics company Cambridge Analytica very seriously. If the FTC comes to the conclusion that the online network has not done enough to protect user data, it’s likely to be expensive for Facebook. The network had already committed itself to stricter data protection in a previous agreement with the FTC.
After data scandal: Cambridge Analytica broke
For the data analysis company Cambridge Analytica, the Facebook data scandal signifies the END. The company and British parent company SCL Group have filed for bankruptcy, the two companies announced in a joint press release.
Cambridge Analytica: Financial situation is precarious
As a reason for the bankruptcy, the companies claim that the media reports about the company have taken virtually all customers away from them. The financial situation is “precarious,” it goes on. This is probably due to, among other things, to pay the lawyers fee by the company. As reported by the US daily “The Wall Street Journal,” these have increased enormously as a result of the investigations into the data scandal.
Cambridge Analytica: victims of the media
The company sees itself as the victim of an unbalanced media coverage: “While this decision was extremely painful for the leadership of Cambridge Analytica, it acknowledges that it is even harder for the dedicated employees who have learned today that they have theirs Jobs lost as a result of unfair media coverage.”
Unfair media coverage, ironic isn’t it? 🙂