Tom Watson labels Mark Zuckerberg an ‘arrogant corporate elite’

Tom Watson labels Mark Zuckerberg an ‘arrogant corporate elite’

February 6, 2019

‘He’s an arrogant corporate elite and a coward’: Labour deputy leader Tom Watson blasts Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg for failing to answer questions from MPs

  • Tom Watson blasted Facebook CEO at event organised Progressive Centre UK  
  • Zuckerberg was due to answer MPs’ questions about his social media platform 
  • White Paper on online harms to be published by Government by end of winter 

Mark Zuckerberg has been branded an ‘arrogant corporate elite’ and ‘coward’ by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson after the Facebook founder failed to answer questions from MPs.

The West Bromwich East MP said he felt Zuckerberg’s snub made it seem as if the UK did not matter and is just a ‘little place on a map’ and ‘minor market to him’.

Speaking at an event in east London, Watson said: ‘You should always look to where you can do the most good – and what good comes from Mark Zuckerberg’s behaviour?

‘He’s an arrogant corporate elite and he’s a coward – and he should be sitting in front of that Digital, [Culture, Media and Sport select] committee, which has cross-party unity and answering the questions that our democratic institutions need to know.

Tom Watson criticised Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during an event last night. Pictured: Watson on the Peston show on January 9, 2019

‘For me, personally, the symbolism of that empty chair, having been through the phone hacking enquiry 10 years ago, it is really resonant.’

The Facebook executive has failed to turn up to hearing to answer questions on a range of social networking issues. 

Among the issues the that were to be brought up to the Facebook CEO include handling of data breaches, allegations of business malpractice, repeated electoral interference and the rampant spread of disinformation and hate speech on the platform.  

Watson added: ‘It’s clear to me that for Zuckerberg… the United Kingdom is a little place on a map.

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‘It’s a minor market for him and he doesn’t feel that he has to answer to the people in this room and to the citizens that use his services, and therefore, with that arrogance, the Government has to act.’  

Speaking at the event organised by centre-left think tank Progressive Centre UK, the shadow secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, set out Labour’s view on the need for regulation of big tech firms.

Mr Watson said that tech firms with huge amounts of data on users needed to be held to account for happens on their platforms, similar to other industries.

Mark Zuckerberg came under fire from Tom Watson after failing to turn up to questions from MPs

‘Unfortunately the leadership of some of these data monopolists have been so appalling that the only way you can get traction in their realm is to hit their bottom line,’ he said.

‘So when we talk about a regulator with teeth, we think that the fines regime has to be high enough to really hit these cash-rich monopolists, in order to change their behaviour.’

The MP for West Bromwich East said he was heartened that the Government wants change too, but accused it of being ‘dazzled by the scale of corporate profit for far too long without questioning how much of the value reaches the bulk of the population’.

A White Paper on online harms will be published by the Government by the end of winter setting out expectations for social media companies, followed by a consultation over the summer that will set out new laws that could enforce the removal of harmful content.

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