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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.

Where’s the accountability Facebook?

Facebook has yet again declined an invitation for its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer international politicians questions about how disinformation spreads on his platform and undermines democratic processes. But policymakers arent giving up — and have upped the ante by issuing a fresh invitation signed by representatives from another three national parliaments. So the call for global accountability is getting louder. Now representatives from a full five parliaments have signed up to an international grand committee calling for answers from Zuckerberg, with Argentina, Australia and Ireland joining the UK and Canada to try to pile political pressure on Facebook. The UKs Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee has been asking for Facebooks CEO to attend its multi-month enquiry for the best part of this year, without success… Zuckerberg refuses UK parliament summons over Fb data misuseZuckerberg again snubs UK parliament over call to testifyIn its last request the twist was it came not just from the DCMS inquiry into online disinformation but also the Canadian Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. This year policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic have been digging down the rabbit hole of online disinformation — before and since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted into a major global scandal — announcing last week they will form an international grand committee to further their enquiries. The two committees will convene for a joint hearing in the UK parliament on November 27 — and they want Zuckerberg to join them to answer questions related to the platforms malign use in world affairs and democratic process, as they put it in their invitation letter. Facebook has previously despatched a number of less senior representatives to talk to policymakers probing damages caused by disinformation — including its CTO, Mike Schroepfer, who went before the DCMS committee in April. But both Schroepfer and Zuckerberg have admitted the accountability buck stops with Facebooks CEO. The companys nine-month-old Privacy Principles also makes the following claim [emphasis ours]: We are accountableIn addition to comprehensive privacy reviews, we put products through rigorous data security testing. We also meet with regulators, legislators and privacy experts around the world to get input on our data practices and policies. The increasingly pressing question, though, is to whom is Facebook actually accountable? Zuckerberg went personally to the US House and Senate to face policymakers questions in April. He also attended a meeting of the EU parliaments Conference of Presidents in May. But the rest of the world continues being palmed off with minions. Despite some major, major harms. Facebooks 2BN+ user platform does not stop at the US border. And Zuckerberg himself has conceded the company probably wouldnt be profitable without its international business. Yet so far only the supranational EU parliament has managed to secure a public meeting with Facebooks CEO. And MEPs there had to resort to heckling Zuckerberg to try to get answers to their actual questions. 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, tweeted DCMS chair Damian Collins today, reissuing the invitation for Zuckerberg. The call for accountability is growing, with representatives from 5 parliaments now meeting on the 27th. The letter to Facebooks CEO notes that the five nations represent 170 million Facebook users. We call on you once again to take up your responsibility to Facebook users, and speak in person to their elected representatives, it adds. 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 The UKs information commissioner said yesterday that Facebook needs to overhaul its business model, giving evidence to parliament on the unprecedented data investigation her office has been running which was triggered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. She also urged policymakers to strengthen the rules on the use of peoples data for digital campaigning. Last month the European parliament also called for Facebook to let in external auditors in the wake of Cambridge Analytica, to ensure users data is being properly protected — yet another invitation Facebook has declined. Europes parliament calls for full audit of Facebook in wake of breach scandalMeanwhile an independent report assessing the companys human rights impact in Myanmar — which Facebook commissioned but chose to release yesterday on the eve of the US midterms when most domestic eyeballs would be elsewhere — agreed with the UNs damning assessment that Facebook did not do enough to prevent its platform from being used to incite ethical violence. The report also said Facebook is still not doing enough in Myanmar. Facebook still isnt taking Myanmar seriously