“It’s Time To Discuss Breaking Up Facebook’s Monopoly”

“It’s Time To Discuss Breaking Up Facebook’s Monopoly”

November 8, 2019 2 By Sebastian Fry


Now Mr. Guy Verhofstadt, the chair of the
group of the Alliance of the Liberals and Democrats in Europe, you have the floor.
VERHOFSTADT: Thank You, President. First of all, my apologies. I came in in the middle of
your explanation but I was saved by Facebook Live. I followed you on
Facebook Live and that was my rescue today, because of strikes in Paris. I
have to tell you, Mr. Zuckerberg, you remind me in fact, of a protagonist of a
book. Maybe you know that book and the name of the protagonist, Mr. Kalden.
Kalden is the protagonist in a book of Dave Eggers, as you know, The Circle. And
in that book it’s about a big data company, a big data company which was out of
control. Not even the owner has control on it. And that data is used in
elections. And it seems me very near to the reality. Also the fact that maybe you
have less control or no control about your own company for the moment because
you have to apologize, now, I think in total you apologized now 15 or 16 times
the last decade. In 2003 you started. Every year you have one or other
wrongdoing or problem with Facebook and and you have to face the reality and to
say sorry and to say that you’re gonna fix it. Last year I think it was twice
that you apologized and this year you three times already, and we are still in
the month of May, so it’s a little bit early in the year. What my point is
about that is: are you capable to fix it? And if you have already confronted so
many dysfunctions of the system? There has to be clearly a problem and the only
way in my opinion to do it—and I’m a liberal, a free-marketeer—is to have
public regulation to do so. It’s a little bit like with the banks in the 2006 2007
2008, they said also, “Now we’re gonna do self regulation!
Don’t bother no no we’re gonna do it ourselves!” The reality is that they
didn’t do it themselves and it was needed to have tough regulation. I have here a SumOfUs petition where 1 million more than 1
million citizens in Europe ask you to do that and to accept regulation and not to
continue with the the idea, “oh we gonna self-regulate.” I come then to my
concrete questions. The first is about the GDPR and European privacy
standards. You have told that you’re gonna apply them, but are you telling the
truth in fact to us? Are you telling the truth? Because since the outbreak of
Cambridge Analytica you have massively transfered European data of non-European
citizens out from Europe, away from European service to service otherwise in
Europe. I have to tell you that’s against the regulation, against GDPR, and
against existing directive in Europe 95 46 who is still applicable. And the same
that was Mr. Kamall is saying is happening in fact with European non-Facebook users who are in fact collected by you and that’s also against—illegal
in Europe. Against the regulation. The second the point is Article 82 of the
GDPR. You know, you have to know Article 82 gives the possibility of
compensation if there is a problem if Facebook users were abused. May I ask you,
have you an idea, will you compensate the European Facebook users as foreseen in
article 82 of GDPR? Concrete question. And what will be the amount that you
will give them? Maybe the the value that they have with their profile? My value, I
have examined it, my value as Facebook user is $186.
I thought it was more but maybe my wife think it’s less. It could be less.
My opponents think it’s less, but may be good basis what their value is as
profile could be the compensation that you give to these people based on a
regulation. And my third point is about Mr. Weber said it already and I think is
right. You cannot convince him because it’s nonsense, naturally. You have
given the example of Twitter. You have given the example, I think, also, of Google
as some of your competitors. But it’s like somebody who has a monopoly in
making cars is saying, “Look, I have a monopoly making cars but there is no
problem. You can take a plane. You can take a train. You can even take your bike.
So I have no monopoly!” So there is a problem there. I have two specific
questions there. Could you or would you cooperate with the European anti-trust
authorities to examine it and to open your books so that we can see if yes or
no there is a monopoly? And secondly, if you have to split off for example
Facebook Messenger, to give you an example, and WhatsApp and to keep then
Instagram—should that be a good deal for you that you could accept? So finally,
as my last point, is on a more personal note. I really think we have a big
problem here. And it’s not solved by saying “We’re gonna fix it ourselves.” And
you have to ask yourself, well, how you will be remembered? As one of the three
big Internet giants, together with Steve Jobs I should say and Bill Gates, who
have enriched our world and our societies? Or at the other hand, in fact the genius
who created a digital monster that is destroying our democracies and our society?
That’s a question that you have to put yourself, for yourself. okay thank you and now mr. Lambeth score
share of the group of the Greens here the floor
yes mr. Zuckerberg welcome I’ll be straight I have six binary questions I
gave copy to mr. Kaplan first of them will Facebook commit to