An unprecedented international grand committee comprising 22 representatives from seven parliaments will meet in London next week to put questions to Facebook about the online fake news crisis and the social network’s own string of data misuse scandals.
But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg won’t be providing any answers. The company has repeatedly refused requests for him to answer parliamentarians’ questions.
Instead it’s sending a veteran EMEA policy guy, Richard Allan, now its London-based VP of policy solutions, to face a roomful of irate MPs.
Allan will give evidence next week to elected members from the parliaments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore, along with members of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) parliamentary committee.
At the last call the international initiative had a full eight parliaments behind it but it’s down to seven — with Australia being unable to attend on account of the travel involved in getting to London.
A spokeswoman for the DCMS committee confirmed Facebook declined its last request for Zuckerberg to give evidence, telling TechCrunch: “The Committee offered the opportunity for him to give evidence over video link, which was also refused. Facebook has offered Richard Allan, vice president of policy solutions, which the Committee has accepted.
“The Committee still believes that Mark Zuckerberg is the appropriate person to answer important questions about data privacy, safety, security and sharing,” she added. “The recent New York Times investigation raises further questions about how recent data breaches were allegedly dealt with within Facebook, and when the senior leadership team became aware of the breaches and the spread of Russian disinformation.”
The DCMS committee has spearheaded the international effort to hold Facebook to account for its role in a string of major data scandals, joining forces with similarly concerned committees across the world, as part of an already wide-ranging enquiry into the democratic impacts of online disinformation that’s been keeping it busy for the best part of this year.
And especially busy since the Cambridge Analytica story blew up into a major global scandal this April, although Facebook’s 2018 run of bad news hasn’t stopped there…
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