Facebook Lobbying European Governments At Record-Setting Pace

Amid Cambridge Analytica scandal, Zuckeberg spent a record amount of money on lobbying European governments, filings show.

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Andrew Harnik / AP Images

Amid Cambridge Analytica scandal, Zuckeberg spent a record amount of money on lobbying European governments, filings show.

In late March 2018, according to Bloomberg, Facebook went on a hiring spree. The social media platform was looking to hire at least 11 Washington lobbyists. According to European transparency filings published this week, Facebook is doing the same in Europe. In fact, amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Zuckeberg spent a record amount of money on lobbying European governments.

Facebook doubled its lobbying spend to as much as $3 million in 2017, up from $1 million in 2016, Business Insider noted. They have also increased the number of lobbyists to 15 from 10 staffers. The Cambridge Analytica scandal — which has, according to the Guardian, affected around 87 million people — may have cast a shadow over everything that has been going on in Europe in 2017.

In July of last year, in an exclusive report by Reuters, it was revealed that Russia used Facebook to spy on Emanuel Macron’s campaign officials. Russian intelligence agents created fake Facebook personas in order to conduct surveillance on Macron’s team. At the time, the centrist former financier was seeking to defeat defeat far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen. These accounts were also caught spreading fake news about the French election. The Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed these accusations, but Facebook confirmed that it had detected, and deactivated, spying accounts in France.

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  Richard Drew / AP Images

In Britain, the chair of the Home Affairs Committee warned representatives from Facebook and other social media companies, accusing them of “grooming and radicalizing” their users through algorithms which promote hate speech, drawing users into a “bubble of hate.” According to the Independent, Committee chair and Labour MP Yvette Cooper said the following.

“Your algorithms are doing that grooming and that radicalization because once people go on one slightly dodgy thing, you are linking them to an awful lot of other similar things. Whether that is racist extremism or Islamist extremism, your technology is doing that job and you’re not stopping it from doing so.”

In February 2018, Germany introduced a new law meant to compel social media sites to remove illegal content and hate speech from their platforms. As Euronews noted, the law was criticized and German lawmakers were accused of turning social media platforms into “overzealous censors.”

In a blog post published in January 2018, Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook, announced that the social media giant would be publishing its privacy principles for the first time ever. This was done in response to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which predicts drastic fines. The GDPR is, as the Inquisitr noted, considered the biggest overhaul of personal data privacy rules since the birth of the internet.

European officials have repeatedly called on Mark Zuckeberg to appear before the European Parliament to explain the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but he has refused.