Mark Zuckerberg failed to answer a lot of questions from members of the European Parliament Tuesday — largely due to time constraints and a bizarre meeting format that let the Facebook founder and CEO peddle talking points.
“I mean I asked you six yes-and-no questions. I got not a single answer,” Belgian European Parliament member Philippe Lamberts said at the conclusion of the meeting.
Zuckerberg met with European Union leaders for his third appearance before regulators to address Facebook‘s Cambridge Analytica scandal. EU officials, who have historically been tougher on Silicon Valley and more concerned about privacy than their U.S. counterparts, pitched tough questions on shadow profiles, data tracking and Facebook’s market power.
Members of the European Parliament asked questions in bulk for the first 60-plus minutes while Zuckerberg took notes. He began addressing all the questions at once with just 7 minutes remaining in the allotted time.
“The questions were really strong. And then [Zuckerberg] basically went on kind of a five or 10-minute rehearsed, big-theme talking point. And then said, ‘Oh we’re 15 minutes over, peace out,’ and headed for the jet,” NYU professor and vocal tech critic Scott Galloway told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” after the meeting.
“I was saying this morning, it felt like prom night for me,” Galloway said. “A lot of expectations, and now I’m just in a haze of disappointment and unmet expectations.”
Zuckerberg acknowledged the time limitations and attempted to close the meeting about 15 minutes after it was scheduled to end — to the clear exasperation of several EU officials.
“There were a lot of specific questions that I didn’t get to specifically answer,” Zuckerberg acknowledged as the meeting broke up. “I think I was able to address the high-level areas.”
A Facebook representative was not immediately available to comment on the meeting format after its conclusion.
‘It Would Be Good If You Say At Least One Word To That.’
Tuesday’s meeting comes after Zuckerberg spent 10 grueling hours before the U.S. Congress last month during which members of Congress asked about the fundamentals of online advertising and basic functionality of Facebook’s platforms.
Their European counterparts appeared largely more knowledgeable and asked specific, direct questions.
The parliamentary member from London asked about so-called shadow profiles, which Facebook creates and stores on non-Facebook users through pixels and plug-ins across the internet. Facebook earlier this month said it would offer users the option to disassociate that data from their profiles, but it has not made clear how and if non-Facebook users can prevent that collection altogether.
“Is it morally acceptable do you think in your opinion to collect non-Facebook users data without them knowing what you do with it?” parliamentary member Syed Kamall asked.
Zuckerberg was later pressed to address shadow profiles — with brief shouts across the meeting room — at which point he said it was important for Facebook’s community to keep that data on non-users before abruptly switching subjects.
One official poked fun at Zuckerberg’s history of privacy scandals and apologizing: “I think in total you apologized now 15 or 16 times [in] the last decade. You started in 2003 and every year you have one or other wrongdoing or problem with Facebook and you have to face the reality and to say sorry and to say you’re going to fix it,” Guy Verhofstadt from Belgium said. “Are you capable to fix it?”
Another questioner asked about data sharing between Facebook and its secure messaging app, WhatsApp, and how the recently passed GDPR data regulations would affect them.
“I think it’s a very important question this round,” Jan Philipp Albrecht of Germany said after Zuckerberg failed to address the question. “It would be good if you say at least one word to that.”
This story originally appeared on CNBC. Image courtesy of John Thys/AFP/Getty Images.