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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Zuckerberg to push positives in testimony over Cambridge Analytica

Facebook chief will use appearance in front of European parliament to discuss company’s continued investment in region

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He is due to appear before a European parliament hearing over data misuse. /Leah Millis/Reuters
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He is due to appear before a European parliament hearing over data misuse. /Leah Millis/Reuters

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg will tout the company’s investment in Europe and again take responsibility for privacy failures, according to testimony prepared for an appearance in front of the region’s parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Zuckerberg, who was asked to address concerns about the Cambridge Analytica data leak, will repeat what he’s been telling every audience recently: that the company didn’t take a broad enough view of its responsibility for user data, fake news and foreign interference in elections. For that, he’s sorry, the chief executive says in excerpts of his remarks released in advance by the company.

But Mr Zuckerberg will use the time to also discuss Facebook’s continued investment in Europe. He’ll remind them about an artificial intelligence research lab in Paris, a large engineering team in London, and data centres in Sweden, Ireland and Denmark set to open in 2020. He’ll also highlight how refugees are using the site to communicate with families back in their home countries, and how Europeans used the company’s "safety check" feature to keep tabs on loved ones after terror attacks in Paris, London and Brussels.

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“We’re committed to Europe,” Mr Zuckerberg plans to say. “Many of the values Europeans care most deeply about are values we share: from the importance of human rights and the need for community to a love of technology, with all the potential it brings.”

He is aiming to highlight the company’s positive impact on the region at a time of heightened regulatory scrutiny. He’ll speak just days before Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect, exposing Facebook to hefty fines if the company doesn’t follow the rules. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved an app developer sharing Facebook information on up to 87 million people, may have affected as many as 2.7 million Europeans. And there are 200 more potentially problematic apps, Facebook said recently.

The CEO spent about 10 hours testifying in front of the US Congress in April. His European Union appearance is scheduled to last a little longer than an hour, starting later on Tuesday. The parliament will separately organise a hearing with Facebook representatives to examine data protection that will also look at the potential impact on the election process.