MEPs will use a private meeting convened to discuss the widely criticized showdown with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg this week, to berate the legislatures President Antonio Tajani over his handling of the event.
Although the tech CEO belatedly agreed for the hearing to be livestreamed, the format — which did not allow MEPs to ask follow-up questions on topics such as fake news and election security — means Zuckerberg was able to get away with what many regarded as superficial answers.
Whats more, while he was grilled for hours by U.S. lawmakers, the European Parliament hearing lasted around an hour and half.
“Zuckerberg came to the Parliament for [an hour and a half] to say nothing,” one Parliament official said. “How did Tajani accept [that]? He had no time to be grilled.”
Another said the meeting, had been “bad press for the European Parliament.”
After the hearing, Liberal party leader Guy Verhofstadt tweeted: “Todays pre-cooked format was inappropriate & ensured #Zuckerberg could avoid our questions. I trust that written answers from Facebook will be forthcoming.”
According to several Parliament officials, the discussion about the Zuckerberg hearing will be held on Thursday in Strasbourg during a meeting of the Conference of Presidents — the legislatures top political body made up of party leaders.
The first official said there would be criticism of “the way Tajani handled the organization” of the Zuckerberg event. In order to make time for the discussion, a separate meeting scheduled with European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans was canceled, the official said.
MEPs are currently in the process of completing remaining questions to send to the Facebook boss. The company is still expected to send an executive or high-level manager to answer more detailed questions at the Parliament, although the timing of that hearing is not yet clear.
Philippe Lamberts, the co-leader of the Greens group in the Parliament said Friday that co-leader Ska Keller would participate in the meeting on Thursday. “I told Tajani what I thought of it [the Zuckerberg hearing] already,” Lamberts said.