What’s Done: Mark Zuckerberg just got grilled by European Parliament over the company’s data privacy problems.
The Highlight: “In total you apologized 15 or 16 times in the last decade,” Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, said after Zuckerberg apologized, again. “Every year you have one or another wrongdoing with your company. … Are you able to fix it? And if you’ve already confronted so many dysfunctions, there clearly has to be a problem.”
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The Big Picture: Facebook’s data privacy problem isn’t a glitch, it’s the central feature. Facebook succeeds by collecting, harvesting and profiting off your data. In fact, many of Facebook’s proposed solutions to its myriad problems are structured to give them more access to your data.
To wit, look at one idea Facebook has for stopping people from posting naked photos of other people, mentioned in today’s New York Times:
“Niamh Sweeney, Facebook’s policy chief for Ireland … said that one way Facebook was trying to address the issue was by inviting individuals to preemptively submit naked or other embarrassing pictures of themselves so the company’s software could block efforts to post the images. (A pilot program is underway in Australia.)”
As for the hearing … The questions were good. The format wasn’t.
My colleague Samuel Burke emailed from Brussels during the hearing: “It’s a shit show so far. The questions are excellent and very poignant, except the format is totally in favor of Zuckerberg. They are ALL asking questions first and then later on Zuckerberg will answer in one fell swoop.”
Bonus: Paul Tweed, the lawyer who made his name suing news organizations on behalf of Hollywood stars, is setting his sights on Facebook, per NYT’s David Kirkpatrick:
“I say to Facebook, ‘What is the difference between you and a national newspaper being responsible for the letters they publish on their letters page? Why do you have to be treated differently?’ Facebook can’t say, ‘We are not a publisher; we are just a platform.’ I have been hearing that from them for years, and I never believed it.”