President Emmanuel Macron 40, hosted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 34, and other tech leaders at the Tech for Good summit in Paris on Wednesday to talk about France as an innovation center for Europe.
President Macron had a private meeting with Mr Zuckerberg to discuss Facebook’s data protection scandal.
The meeting came as Facebook, Google and other online giants are increasingly seen by the public as predators that abuse personal data, avoid taxes and stifle competition.
Macron told key tech figures at the Elysée palace on Wednesday that they could not just be “free riding” without taking into account the common good. He called on them to help improve “social situations, inequalities, climate change.”
Macron welcomed Zuckerberg and the leaders of dozens of other tech companies, including Microsoft, Uber, and IBM, at a “Tech for Good” conference meant to address how they could use their global influence for the public good.
“As you know there is no free lunch,” Macron said to laughter to the tech executives as he greeted them on arrival at Elysee Palace for the Tech for Good meeting.
Macron, who is keen for his country to become a “startup nation”, hosted the gathering but demanded that tech companies pay their fair share in tax if they want to be part of France’s digital future. He told heavy-hitters at the summit, including the Facebook boss, that he favoured “tough regulations”.
Zuckerberg later took to Instagram to talk about his meeting with Macron.
Today I met with President Macron in Paris. We had a great conversation about France as an innovation center for Europe — given the strong engineering talent here and culture of entrepreneurship. We’ve seen this first hand with our major artificial intelligence lab and our Startup Garage at Station F here in Paris. They are both doing incredibly interesting work — and it’s why we will continue to invest in France in the years ahead. Thank you to President Macron for hosting me.