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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

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.