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Facebook : Zuckerberg Seeks to Ease Strains on European Visit -- WSJ

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05/17/2018 | 08:48am CEST

By Natalia Drozdiak and Sam Schechner

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (May 17, 2018).

BRUSSELS -- Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and other European officials next week, as the Silicon Valley giant tries to calm tension with regulators and policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr. Zuckerberg will meet with top European lawmakers in Brussels to discuss the social network's handling of its users' personal information, and its potential impact on European elections, said European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. The hearing won't be open to the public, an EU official said.

In Paris, Mr. Zuckerberg will participate in a lunchtime meeting next Wednesday at France's Elysee Palace called "Tech for Good" that will include such tech executives as Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, a French official said. Mr. Zuckerberg will also have a private meeting directly with Mr. Macron, the official added.

"We are looking forward to meeting next week with the president of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron," the company said, adding of its meetings with EU lawmakers: "We ... appreciate the opportunity for dialogue, to listen to their views and show the steps we are taking to better protect people's privacy."

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment when asked if Mr. Zuckerberg would travel to other European capitals or meet with other officials.

Facebook has come under fire in recent months over revelations that the social network allowed personal information of as many as 87 million users to be obtained by data-analytics company Cambridge Analytica. Facebook also has faced heat over interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by Russian operatives using the social network.

Ahead of European Parliament elections in 2019, the EU has been pushing platforms to do more to halt the spread of misinformation or "fake news, " on their sites, or face possible regulation. Mr. Macron has also directed his government to work on proposing a law to rein in fake news during election periods.

Some EU lawmakers criticized the decision to hold the meeting in Brussels behind closed doors. "Given the deep mistrust caused by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, this meeting must be public. There should not be double standards for the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament," said Green group leaders Philippe Lamberts and Ska Keller.

A trip by Mr. Zuckerberg next week would coincide with the bloc's sweeping new privacy laws, which enter into force next Friday, May 25. Facebook has said it would implement some privacy controls inspired by the law world-wide. While smaller advertising rivals and analysts say the law could favor the company's advertising business because Facebook will have an easier time getting consent, the company also faces scrutiny from regulators and privacy activists over whether it gathers more information than it needs.

European lawmakers have stepped up calls for Mr. Zuckerberg to testify in Brussels about the Cambridge revelations after he spoke before U.S. lawmakers in mid-April.

In the U.K., a British parliamentary committee requested Mr. Zuckerberg testify about Facebook's handling of user data or face a formal summons.

Facebook has said Mr. Zuckerberg had no plans to go to the U.K., and a spokesman Wednesday said he had "nothing else to add right now." The company sent a top executive to testify before the committee last month.

In January, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also met with Mr. Macron in Paris, and with EU officials in Brussels.

--Valentina Pop, Jenny Gross and William Horobin contributed to this article.

Write to Natalia Drozdiak at [email protected] and Sam Schechner at [email protected]

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EBIT 2018 25 935 M
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NameTitle
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Sheryl Kara Sandberg Chief Operating Officer & Director
David M. Wehner Chief Financial Officer
Michael Todd Schroepfer Chief Technology Officer
Atish Banerjea Chief Information Officer
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