What we want from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg's latest day of reckoning takes place at the European Parliament in Brussels today.
The Facebook founder agreed to appear before MEPs in a behind-closed-doors hearing but the scenario now looks very different after it was revealed yesterday that the session would be broadcast on Facebook Live.
That announcement followed speculation that MEPs had revolted against the idea of a private grilling.
Here is what we want to hear from Zuckerberg and Facebook from 5.15pm today, but also in the short-term and longer-term.
What we want today
An apology. The personal data of up to 87 million people was compromised in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook, Zuckerberg and other execs have apologised several times - but he must keep on doing so.
Answers. What did Zuckerberg know about Cambridge Analytica before the scandal broke? He also uttered the words "I'll get back to you on that" no less than 42 times in front of a US Congressional hearing last month. Hopefully he has done his homework this time after he was unable to clarify details such as how long his platform retains a user's data after they delete their account and whether it tracks users after they've logged out.
Strong leadership. As the founder of the world's most popular social media platform, adopting positive language can reflect the passion he must surely feel for Facebook. He has changed the lives of billions of people - and now has the chance to show them he has their interests at heart with a strong statement of intent to change rather than "we will do better".
A genuine enthusiasm for the occasion. Zuck was lampooned as robot-like when giving his answers during a US Congressional hearing last month.
A commitment to GDPR. Facebook has a real opportunity to set a trend for worldwide adherence to the European Union's new data regulations, set to come into force in just three days. Taking a 'one world' approach would show users how seriously it now takes its role as custodian of their personal data - and where better to make such a promise than the European Paliament's Conference of Presidents?
I have personally discussed with Facebook CEO Mr Zuckerberg the possibilty of webstreaming meeting with him. I am glad to announce that he has accepted this new request. Great news for EU citizens. I thank him for the respect shown towards EP. Meeting tomorrow from 18:15 to 19:30— Antonio Tajani (@EP_President) May 21, 2018
Tomorrow, I will attend the hearing with Mr Zuckerberg as webstreaming makes it now transparent and public. EU citizens have been most affected by the recent scandal and deserve to hear the truth. What questions do you want answered by Zuckerberg? Let me know!??— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) May 21, 2018
What we want next month
Stop being reactive. A Change.org petition postd by the German Green Party's Sven Giegold calling for today's session to be livestreamed collected 30,000 signatures. He tweeted 'Pressure works!' following news of the U-turn. But why must Facebook and its founder always bow to pressure and give the impression that they are merely box-ticking?
European Parliament: The Sequel. Senior Facebook execs are expected to attend a public hearing before the European Parliament's home affairs committee in June. There is nowhere more important for Zuckerberg to be on that date. A commitment to return to Brussels and answer the questions he is genuinely unable to today would show a desire for transparency.
A UK visit. Zuck has refused to appear publicly before a UK Parliament select committee on three occasions. A cynic might suggest that he would have refused to appear at today's hearing, had a livestream been insisted upon from the outset. While Euro politicians are limited to one question each with one follow-up, no such restrictions are placed on UK hearings.
The right to be forgotten. It's always driven us mad that Facebook accounts cannot be fully deleted when a user decides to ditch the platform.
→ MORE OPINION: FACEBOOK'S WAR ON ITSELF
What we want next year
A paid-for Facebook. The network's runaway success has been driven by rapid and constant growth in advertising sales and there have been no signs that it will scale back its collection and analysis of data to make its ads less targeted. The solution? Give people the option of paying to use an advert-free version of the platform.
The end of fake news. Last year's scandal was accused of influencing both the US Presidential election and Brexit referendum and is not going away. UK MEP Claude Moraes is expected today to quiz Zuckerberg on the topic of how Facebook will tackle fake news ahead of next year's European Parliament elections. The time is fast approaching where Facebook has to fully accept its responsibility as a media publisher - or the masses may begin to lose trust in its content.
A Facebook crytocurrency. The social network now has a blockchain unit which is rumoured to be working towards this goal. Full transparency of all transactions on Facebook can only be a good thing.
Contributions from Katherine Lofthouse and Alistair Hardaker