The appearance will take place in closed session, behind closed doors, much to the chagrin of Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian PM and leader of the parliament’s liberal faction.
Zuckerberg’s appearance is in relation to new EU privacy rules which come into force later this month. Facebook has a European base in Ireland, and so is covered by the rules. The parliament will be interested in questioning Zuckerberg – who has already appeared before the US Congress – on what his company intends to do to come into line with the new rules.
At the back of MEPs’ minds will be the scandal of Cambridge Analytica, the data company that harvested Facebook data and used it – apparently without users’ knowledge – to manage electoral campaigns.
Zuckerberg has insisted he will only appear before a limited committee and in camera. “If that’s the way it is, I will not be attending,” Verhofstadt said. “Things have to be carried out in a transparent fashion in a democracy. Zuckerberg’s appearance before the US Congress was in public, wasn’t it?”