UK panel sends tough message to Zuckerberg to appear
An influential committee of Britain’s Parliament has reiterated its “invitation” to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to appear before it, and said it could issue him summons the next time he is in the UK if he fails to respond positively.
In a strongly worded letter to Rebecca Stimson, head of public policy at Facebook UK, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, Damian Collins, called for Zuckerberg’s appearance by May 24 and responses to nearly 40 questions by May 11.
Collins wrote on Tuesday: “It is worth noting that while Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country.
“We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the Committee will resolve to issue a formal summons to him to appear when he is next in the UK.”
Last week, the committee questioned Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, who was deputed to appear instead of Zuckerberg. The panel has said it found Schroepfer’s evidence was unsatisfactory.
Collins’ letter detailed specific questions that Schroepfer was unable to answer fully, or promised a written response to, including on Cambridge Analytica, “dark ads” and Facebook’s financial gain from them, third party app developers, foreign interference and advertising spend on elections.
The questions include how many fake accounts had been identified and removed from Myanmar, and how much of Facebook’s revenue is derived from the country.
Collins referred to reports that Zuckerberg would appear before the European Parliament in May, and hoped he would come to London during his trip to Europe. He also sought confirmation by May 11 about his appearance before the committee.
“(There) are over 40 million Facebook users in the UK and they deserve to hear accurate answers from the company he created and whether he is able to keep their users’ data safe,” Collins wrote.
The committee has been inquiring into fake news and related issues. It heard evidence in March from Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie about political campaigning in India and other countries, and the use of personal data on Facebook for such purposes.