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Mark Zuckerberg will face the European Parliament over Facebook's sway

Europe wants to know about Facebook's use of data and its potential impact on upcoming elections.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
The EU Parliament has some questions for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
James Martin/CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be headed to Brussels to testify before the European Parliament, according to its president, Antonio Tajani.

Tajani confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday that the Facebook CEO has accepted his invitation, and said the appearance could happen as early as next week. 

Zuckerberg will meet the leaders of the political groups, as well as the chair and the rapporteur of the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. The focus of the meetings will be on the potential impact of Facebook on electoral processes in Europe, as well as other aspects of personal data protection.

Tajani extended an invitation to Zuckerberg to appear in Brussels in the early days of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which first made headlines in March. In April, Zuckerberg testified before Congress regarding Cambridge Analytica, data privacy, Russian interference in the 2016 US election and how the social network handles political points of view. 

But in spite of his trips to Washington and Brussels, the Facebook CEO apparently isn't amenable to talking to all politicians about his company's role in the scandal. He has declined to speak to British politicians on multiple occasions -- the latest rejection taking place only on Tuesday -- despite being threatened with a potential formal summons by Parliament.

His acceptance of the EU's invitation is a further snub to politicians in the UK, but is being welcomed warmly in Brussels.

"Our citizens deserve a full and detailed explanation," said Tajani. "I welcome Mark Zuckerberg's decision to appear in person before the representatives of 500 million Europeans. It is a step in the right direction towards restoring confidence."

It isn't clear yet whether Zuckerberg's meetings at the EU Parliament will be held in public or behind closed doors.

"We have accepted the Council of President's proposal to meet with leaders of the European Parliament and appreciate the opportunity for dialogue, to listen to their views and show the steps we are taking to better protect people's privacy," said a Facebook spokeswoman in a statement.

Originally published May 16 at 8:32 a.m. PT.
Update at 9:01 a.m. PT:  Added confirmation by the EU Parliament and by Facebook, as well as background information.

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