Facebook is a business

May 29, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER , Technology

AFP photo



Tom Arms



The much-heralded appearance of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg before the European Parliament recently was the dampest of damp squibs.


The CEO of the world’s biggest social media site failed to offer any more insight into his company’s policies and data protection plans than is available on the Facebook corporate website.


This was mainly because of the format of the meeting. When Zuckerberg appeared before the US Congress, each senator and congressman was given an equal time allocation to pose their questions. Zuckerberg answered them before moving onto his next inquisitor. In Strasbourg, all of the MEPs took turns speaking, but Zuckerberg did not answer them until all of the questions had been asked and comments made. He was given half an hour to answer. The result was that he cherry-picked the questions that he wanted to answer and the answers were anodyne old hat at best.


Not answered were:


  • Is Facebook a monopoly?
  • How will Facebook use data from its What’s App division?
  • What is Facebook’s position on Shadow Profiles?
  • Should non-Facebook users data be collected?
  • And, did he (Mark Zuckerberg) want to be remembered as the man who created a digital monster?


Mark Zuckerberg went to Strasbourg reluctantly. He has also been asked to appear before a British parliamentary committee. He has point blank refused the UK request. His argument is that neither the British government nor the European parliament have any jurisdiction over American citizen Mark Zuckerberg, unless he has committed a criminal offense, and he hasn’t.


That is true, but Zuckerberg also proudly describes Facebook as a global company which means that its CEO should be prepared to meet with legislators globally, especially in Europe where there are more Facebook users than in any other region of the world.


On Friday, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) took effect. Under these regulations consumers will have to opt-in to receiving emails or any other material. They will have the right to access any data held by digital companies; the right to have deleted any information held by digital companies; to comment on that information and the social media companies will be legally required to keep it safe.


Facebook recently transferred 1.5 billion of its international users from the jurisdiction of its European headquarters in Dublin to the US. Many think that this is to try to avoid prosecution for the GDPR laws. This would not be surprising because fines for a breach of the regulations and non-compliance are $20 million or four percent of global turnover, whichever is the greater.


As Zuckerberg has pointed out – Facebook is a business.





Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email[email protected].

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