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Mark Zuckerberg rejects request to appear before U.K. and Canada-led committee

Facebook has declined a request to send CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before an international grand committee on the topic of fake news and disinformation — though the committee continues to grow. U.K. MP Damian Collins — one of the organizers of the committee, along with Canadian MP Bob Zimmer — tweeted this morning that Facebook declined the invitation last week. However, representatives from Australia, Argentina, and Ireland have now signed on to appear at the hearing, scheduled for November 27. This morning, Collins again reiterated the call for Facebook to send Zuckerberg, writing that five parliaments are now calling on you to do the right thing by the 170 million users in the countries they represent. Facebooks rejection letter stated that we continue to fully recognise the seriousness of these issues and remain committed to working with [your committees] to provide any additional information you require, but that it is not possible for Mr. Zuckerberg to be available to all Parliaments. Facebook say that they remain committed" to working with our committees "to provide any additional relevant information" that we require. Yet they offer no means of doing this. The call for accountability is growing, with representatives from 5 parliaments now meeting on the 27th Zimmer and Collins — on behalf of the U.K. and Canadian parliaments — sent a letter to Facebook on October 31, asking them to send Zuckerberg to testify in front of a multi-country hearing in London. The hearing would look at Facebooks attempts to fight fake news and disinformation on its platform — something that other Facebook executives have discussed with the U.K. government. Over the last year Facebook has repeatedly rebuffed Collins requests to send Zuckerberg  — to testify in front of a Parliament regarding the issue of fake news, and the improper harvesting of Facebook data conducted by now-defunct U.K. firm Cambridge Analytica. The U.K. Parliament even went so far as to say that Zuckerberg would face a formal summons to testify the next time he appeared in the country. Facebook noted that in the U.K .we provided multiple written submissions to this [Cambridge Analytica] inquiry, including responding to extensive written follow-up questions, senior Facebook staff gave evidence to the U.k. Committees session in Washington and one of the most senior people in the company has given 5 hours of testimony in the U.K. Parliament. After being stonewalled, Collins teamed up Zimmer, a Canadian MP who heads up a committee that focuses on digital media policy, to once again try to force Zuckerberg to appear. We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments. However, we believe that your users in other countries need a line of accountability to your organisation — directly, via yourself. Update, 9:04 a.m. Pacific: Updated with additional comments from Facebook.

Zuckerberg rejects invite from international committee to give evidence on fake news

Mark Zuckerberg has turned down another yet another request to answer questions from politicians outside of the United States. On October 31st, the Facebook founder was invited to give evidence before a UK parliamentary committee, with politicians from Canada co-signing the invitation. This unusual show of international cooperation has since been supported by lawmakers from Australia, Argentina, and Ireland, with these five countries forming an international grand committee representing some 170 million Facebook users. Zuckerberg rejected the request on November 2nd, according to UK MP Damian Collins, who made the original invitation in his role as head of the countrys Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee. In a letter published today, Collins said he and his Canadian counterparts were very disappointed with [Facebooks] dismissive response. Mark Zuckerberg has set himself the personal challenge of fixing Facebook this year to prevent its misuse in our democratic process, said Collins in an earlier statement. By being unwilling to face questions about his progress, doubts about his ability to do so remain. Zuckerberg has already rejected two requests to give evidence in the UK, and has so far only spoken personally to three legislatures: the US Congress, US Senate, and European Parliament. Facebook has explained Zuckerbergs refusal to speak by saying he does not have time to talk to every countrys lawmakers. (Hence the international appeal.) This latest committee will meet in London on November 27th regardless, with Collins chairing the event. The aim of the committee is to analyze the spread of fake news and misinformation, with the UK and Canada preparing independent reports on the topic. In his latest letter, Collins and his fellow politicians repeated their exhortation for Zuckerberg to attend. We say again: the hearing of your evidence is now overdue, and urgent [...] We call on you once again to take up your responsibility to Facebook users, and speak in person to their elected representatives.