"I asked you six yes and no questions and I got not a single answer."
Mark Zuckerberg was saved by the bell at the European Parliament on Tuesday.
The Facebook CEO sat through about an hour of questions from members of the group, and then spent only about 25 minutes answering them. The format for Zuckerberg's testimony in Brussels was a stark contrast from his appearance on Capitol Hill in April. Instead of answering each question immediately, Zuckerberg was able to wait until the end to answer them all together.
In his responses, he didn't exactly go through answering every single concern about privacy regulations, antitrust laws or protecting elections, much to the frustration of several Parliament members. Zuckerberg ended the session telling Parliament, "I want to be sensitive to time because we are 15 minutes over."
But members of Parliament didn't care about time limits. They wanted answers.
"I asked you six yes and no questions and I got not a single answer," Guy Verhofstadt, a Parliament member representing Belgium, said at the end of the hearing.
"I'll make sure we follow up and get you answers to those," Zuckerberg responded, deferring to his team as he did with Congress in April.
But both Verhofstadt and Gabi Zimmer, a Parliament member from Germany, raised their concerns with the questioning format and implied they weren't happy with it.
"The problem is the timing," Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament's president, said in response to the complaints.
Instead of answering all the questions in person, Zuckerberg promised to provide a written response at the end to all the issues he couldn't get to in his 25 minutes of time.
Here're the questions Parliament members complained about Zuckerberg missing.
Verhofstadt's queries may've roughly followed the pattern of a yes/no question, but they were fairly complex. What's more, the sixth one was more of a rhetorical question about Zuckerberg's legacy -- does he want to be remembered as a great person or the creator of a digital monster?
The questions in full:
About the rules of the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, Verhofstadt said to Zuckerberg, "You have told that you are going to apply them. But in fact, are you telling the truth to us?" He then went on to detail several ways he suspects Facebook of violating this and other EU privacy regulations.
Verhofstadt then drilled deeper into the GDPR, focusing on a section that deals with compensating customers whose data is used in violation of the regulations. "May I ask you, have you an idea, will you compensate the European Facebook users as foreseen in Article 82 of the GDPR?" He then followed up by asking, "and what will be the amount that you will give them?" (That's questions two and three, for those of you keeping track at home.)
Then the European Parliament member turned to the issue of monopolies for his fourth and fifth questions. "Would you cooperate with European antitrust authorities to examine [Facebook], and to open your books so that we can see it, yes or no, is it a monopoly?" he asked. "And secondly, if you have to split off... Facebook Messenger, to give you an example, and WhatsApp, to keep the Instagram, [would] that be a good deal for you, that you could accept?"
The last question was a zinger. Zuckerberg's face remained blank as Verhofstadt asked it, and the CEO didn't appear to take notes as he had during the other questions.
"You have to ask yourself how you will be remembered," Verhofstadt said. "As one of the great internet giants, together with Steve Jobs [and] Bill Gates, who have enriched the world and our societies? Or, on the other hand, [as] the genius who created a digital monster that is destroying our democracies and our societies?"
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