Zuckerberg Declines To Appear Before Parliamentary Committee

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Facebook founder refuses to attend parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee

Mark Zuckerberg has refused to face British MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee to answer questions over data abuse.

He will instead send either Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer or Chief Product Officer to answer MPs questions over fake news, in an inquiry that is evolving following the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal.

And Zuckerberg certainly has his hands full at the moment. Earlier this week it was revealed that US’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans to investigate Facebook over the miuse of data on 50 million users by Cambridge Analytica.

Appearance refusal

Zuckerberg’s decision not appear before British MPs comes after Damian Collins, who heads the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, had written to Mr Zuckerberg personally, requesting that he appear.

He gave Zuckerberg a deadline of Monday to reply to his letter.

The committee was looking into social media and fake news, but is quickly broadening into a wider investigation into what happens to data ‘scrapped’ by Facebook and third parties via apps.

The decision by Zuckerberg not to appear before the committee was revealed in a letter from Rebecca Stimson, the UK Head of Public Policy.

She said that Facebook will send either Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, or Chris Cox, its chief product officer.

“Facebook fully recognises the level of public and parliamentary interest in these issues, and supports your belief that these issues must be addressed at the most senior levels of the company by those in an authoritative position to answer your questions,” the letter reportedly said, according to the Independent newspaper.

“As such Mr Zuckerberg has personally asked one of his deputies to make themselves available to give evidence to the Committee.”

No reason

But Damian Collins reportedly said that while the DCMS committee will be “very happy to hear from Mr Cox to give evidence”, he still wanted to speak to Zuckerberg.

Collins reportedly said it wasn’t clear from the letter “whether he is available as well”, and suggested that parliament would consider setting up a “video link if that is more convenient for him”.

Collins also suggested that it still expected Mr Zuckerberg to come if he couldn’t convincingly say why he shouldn’t.

“He stated in interviews that if he is the right person to appear, he will appear,” he said. ”We think he is the right person and look forward to hearing from him,” Collins reportedly said.

Data crisis

Facebook is in the middle of dealing with a crisis after the revelations last week that the personal information of 50 million Facebook users, had been shared without their consent with the analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

Billions of dollars have already been wiped off the value of the Facebook, and last weekend Facebook ran newspaper adverts across America to apologise for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Meanwhile a Reuters survey this week found that fewer than half of Americans trust Facebook to obey US privacy laws.

The same survey also found that fewer Americans trust Facebook than other tech companies that gather user data, such as Apple, Alphabet’s Google, Amazon.com, Microsoft and Yahoo.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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