The Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s meeting with elected representatives of the European Union’s ~500 million citizens will be livestreamed after all, it was confirmed today.
MEPs had been angered by the original closed door format of the meeting, which was announced by the EU parliament’s president last week. But on Friday a majority of the political groups in the parliament had pushed for it to be broadcast online.
This morning president Antonio Tajani confirmed that Facebook had agreed to the 1hr 15 minute hearing being livestreamed.
A Facebook spokesperson also sent us this short statement today: “We’re looking forward to the meeting and happy for it to be live streamed.”
When is the meeting?
The meeting will take place on Tuesday May 22 at 18.15 to 19.30CET. If you want to tune in from the US the meeting is scheduled to start at 9.15PT /12.15ET.
Tajani’s announcement last week said it would start earlier, at 17.45CET, so the meeting appears to have been bumped on by half an hour. We’ve asked Facebook whether Zuckerberg will meet in private with the parliament’s Conference of Presidents prior to the livestream being switched on and will update this story with any response. Update: The EU parliament has confirmed the Facebook founder will meet one-on-one with Tajani for about 20 minutes — prior to the livestreamed session with the COP.
Where to watch it online?
According to Tajani’s spokesperson, the meeting will be broadcast on the EU parliament’s website. At the time of writing it’s not yet listed in the EPTV schedule — but we’re expecting it to be viewable here.
Update: The link for the webstream has now been confirmed — you can watch the meeting here.
Who will be meeting with Zuckerberg?
The Facebook founder will meet with EU parliament president Tajani, along with leaders of the parliament’s eight political groups; and with Claude Moraes, the chair of the EU parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee, and Jan Philipp Albrecht, Green MEP and data protection rapporteur.
It’s worth noting that the meeting is not a formal hearing, such as the sessions with Zuckerberg in the US Senate and Congress last month. Nor is it a full Libe committee hearing — discussions remain ongoing for Facebook representatives to meet with the full Libe committee at a later date.
What will Zuckerberg be asked about?
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal, MEPs are keen to discuss concerns related to social media’s impact on election processes with Zuckerberg.
Indeed, the impact of social media spread online disinformation is also the topic of an ongoing enquiry by the UK parliament’s DCMS committee which spent some five hours grilling Facebook’s CTO last month. Although Zuckerberg has thrice declined the committee’s summons — preferring to meet with EU parliamentarians instead.
Other topics on the agenda will include privacy and data protection — with Moraes likely to ask about how Facebook’s business model impacts EU citizens’ fundamental rights, and how EU regulations might need to evolve to keep pace, as he explained to us on Friday.
Some of the political group leaders are also likely to bring up concerns around freedom of expression as pressure in the region has ramped up on online platforms to get faster at policing hate speech.