Zuckerberg to Talk Hate Speech and Fake News With Macron
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in Paris Wednesday for a meeting with France’s tech-savvy President Emmanuel Macron, the latest stop on a European tour that aims to shore up the company’s reputation after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The two men were to discuss the platform’s efforts to deal with terrorist recruiters, fake news, election meddling and hate speech, an aide to the French president said ahead of the closed-door talks. He said Macron wants the Facebook chief to understand the widespread concern about the misuse of social media.
Their bilateral meeting will follow a lunch at the Elysee Palace where the French leader aims to persuade executives from some of the world’s biggest tech companies that their reach and scale gives them responsibilities comparable to nation states. He wants to talk to the executives about behavior that he considers predatory and also pitch France as a place to invest his office said ahead of the meeting.
“As you know there is no free lunch,” Macron said to laughter from the executives as he greeted them on arrival. “I want commitments from you. I will be direct and open and that’s what I expect from you. Let’s talk very directly about what we can do.”
Zuckerberg was joined at the 18th century palace by executives from Tencent, SAP, Samsung, Intel and Palantir as well as the French bank BNP Paribas, defense supplier Thales and pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. Alongside the Facebook chief, Macron will also hold one-on-ones with executives from Microsoft, IBM and Uber.
Several companies unveiled measures they plan to take in response to his appeal, while not taking strong commitments.
“As a company Google believes firmly in the message we heard today -- that we need to be thoughtful and give back in all the places we live and work,” Google.org director’s Jacquelline Fuller told reporters after the lunch. The company said it will spend $100 million in Europe, the Middle East and Africa over the next five years for digital training.
Uber Technologies Inc. signed a deal with Axa SA to provide insurance cover for its drivers and couriers across Europe, admitting that the startup had “lost sight” of its workers in the quest for growth. U.K. food courier service Deliveroo will also provide free insurance for its riders, the company said today.
Read more: Uber Extends Insurance Deal With Axa to Cover Drivers in Europe
Palantir Technologies Inc., the data-mining company working for the Pentagon, the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as the French intelligence services DGSI, was represented at the “Tech for Good” by co-founder and CEO Alex Karp who thanked Macron on the steps of the Elysee Palace. The company didn’t commit to any measures.
Zuckerberg, who didn’t comment as he left the Elysee after the lunch, will come back for his private meeting with Macron. There won’t be any readout after the meeting from the French side, the aide said, asking not to be named in line with French government rules.
Macron is the first national leader to sit down with Zuckerberg since the data privacy scandal broke in March, offering the Silicon Valley billionaire both an opportunity to show good will and time to explain some of the tougher issues he’s facing in private. He won’t have to address any of Macron’s concerns publicly.
For Zuckerberg, that may make the Paris leg of his trip more comfortable that his visit to the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday when lawmakers asked him whether Facebook is a monopoly that should be broken up. Zuckerberg will also attend a conference organized by the 40-year-old president to explore ways in which the tech industry can have a positive impact on consumers and society.
In Brussels, Zuckerberg spent 25 minutes responding to questions and left many lawmakers frustrated that he hadn’t addressed their questions.
France and its continental neighbors are gearing up for Europe’s parliamentary elections in May 2019. Macron’s aides said Facebook must activate its “election integrity” program ahead of the vote and the president will raise the issue with Zuckerberg. Macron faced battalions of online trolls and fake news providers during his winning presidential campaign last year against the nationalist Marine Le Pen and he wants the Facebook chief to understand his responsibilities, the aide said.
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