Mark Zuckerberg Refuses Appearance Request From International Committee into Fake News

A joint inquiry from the UK and Canadian parliaments have expressed their dismay at Zuckerberg's refusal.
Jessica Miley
CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has refused to attend a parliamentary inquiry in London.PBSO/YouTube

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook has declined a request from the Governments of the United Kingdom and Canada to appear at a “special joint parliamentary hearing” into fake news and data privacy. The tech giant has agreed to send senior company officials instead of Zuckerberg.

Late last month UK and Canadian parliamentary officials requested Zuckerberg to appear the hearing scheduled for November 27 in London. Facebook has officially declined the invitation despite officials from Argentina, Australia, and Ireland also joining the call for the CEO to appear.

Facebook sends top execs instead of CEO

Facebook shared its written response with news outlets but has declined to comment further on the refusal. In the letter, Facebook's heads of public policy in the UK and Canada, notes the gravitas of the issues raised by the governments but says senior members of the company's executive will appear at the hearing instead of Zuckerberg.

Facebook has stated they have already provided written answers to questions from the hearings committee. The collaborating countries have expressed their dismay at Zuckerberg’s refusal to appear saying, “we are very disappointed by this dismissive response."

UK want Zuckerberg to face responsibility

The committee believes that Zuckerberg has a responsibility to Facebook users who were affected by the recent data breach and that he should show the “the same line of accountability” that they gave users in the U.S. and European Union when attending similar hearings. Since the news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke the CEO has appeared in front of the U.S congress twice and the European Parliament once.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal revolved around a personality-quiz app designed for Facebook by Aleksandr Kogan in 2014. 

Cambridge Analytica ripples still moving

Approximately 270,000 people installed Kogan’s app on their Facebook account. At the time, any third party Facebook app developed could also access data about their users or their friends.

This data from the app was stored in a private database instead of being deleted immediately. This database with information of about 50 million Facebook users was provided to the political consulting and voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica.

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This company, which Steve Bannon was at one time Vice President of, used this data to make 30 million “psychographic” profiles about voters. This data was then in turn used to make targeted online ad buys for the Brexit “Leave” campaign, the 2016 presidential campaign of Ted Cruz, and the 2016 Trump campaign.

While the international parliamentary inquiry is keen to get Zuckerberg in front of them to answer their pressing questions, they need only to take a look at his performance from the U.S Senate inquiries to know that Facebook isn’t going to let their star get into too much hot water.

During Zuckerberg’s 10 hour appearance in front of Congress in April he used blanket statements to wriggle out of too much real questioning leaving Congress and the rest of the world uneasy about Facebook's position and ethics.

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