Zuckerberg snubs British, Canadian lawmakers' request for testimony on fake news

Zuckerberg snubs British, Canadian lawmakers' request for testimony on fake news
© Greg Nash

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergPrivacy groups accuse Facebook of deceiving children into spending parents' money Pinterest blocks all vaccine-related searches in effort to combat anti-vax content Hillicon Valley: Kremlin seeks more control over Russian internet | Huawei CEO denies links to Chinese government | Facebook accused of exposing health data | Harris calls for paper ballots | Twitter updates ad rules ahead of EU election MORE on Wednesday again snubbed a joint panel of U.K. and Canadian lawmakers investigating fake news.

Zuckerberg declined an invitation from British Member of Parliament Damian Collins and Canadian Member of Parliament Bob Zimmer to testify on Facebook’s data privacy practices and disinformation on its platform.

“It is not possible for Mr. Zuckerberg to be available to all Parliaments,” Rebecca Stimson, Facebook’s head of U.K. public policy and Kevin Chan, Facebook’s head of Canada public policy, wrote in a letter to the lawmakers on behalf of Zuckerberg.

“While he is unable to accept your invitation we continue to fully recognize the seriousness of these issues and remain committed to working with you to provide any additional relevant information you require for your respective inquiries,” they continued  in the letter, which was dated Nov. 2 but not released until Wednesday.

Collins’s Oct. 31 invitation for Zuckerberg to testify was the second opportunity for the Facebook CEO to appear before British lawmakers. He also declined a previous invitation from the committee in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, in which a British firm improperly obtained data from 87 million Facebook users.

Stimson and Chan said they felt that, aside from rebuffing lawmakers' invitations for Zuckerberg to testify, Facebook was otherwise compliant with their requests.

“We have and will continue to cooperate fully with relevant regulators,” the wrote. “As you will be aware, the Information Commissioner in the UK has now publicly confirmed that her investigation has found no evidence to indicate that UK Facebook users' data (or indeed the data of any Facebook users outside of the US, including in Canada) was ever shared with Cambridge Analytica by Dr. Aleksandr Kogan.”

Collins and Zimmer acknowledged in October that while Zuckerberg could not appear before every parliament, it was important that he testify in at least some counties.

“We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments,” Collins and Zimmer wrote. “However, we believe that your users in other countries need a line of accountability to your organisation—directly, via yourself.”

Zuckerberg has previously testified before members of U.S. Congress as well as European members of parliament.