Facebook exec says Zuckerberg rebuffing lawmakers does not look 'great'

Facebook exec says Zuckerberg rebuffing lawmakers does not look 'great'
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Lawmakers from around the world tore into Facebook on Tuesday over its handling of a string of recent crises, grilling an executive at the company over CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency at hearing Senators press FTC over 'woefully inadequate' Facebook settlement MORE's refusal to answer summons.

In a special joint hearing before a United Kingdom House of Commons panel on digital media, Richard Allan, Facebook's vice president of policy solutions, took the full brunt of lawmakers' frustrations with the company as he sat next to an empty chair reserved for Zuckerberg. 

When asked how it looked for Facebook's CEO to reject multiple requests for his testimony, Allan, a member of the U.K.'s House of Lords, responded, "Not great." Still, he said it was his decision to testify instead of Zuckerberg.


The hearing, which included representatives from eight other countries, came at a time of mounting pressure for Facebook and showed the level of anger the company is facing from political leaders around the world.

"We don’t have Mr. Zuckerberg here today, which is incredibly unfortunate — I think speaks to a failure to account for the loss of trust certainly across the globe with respect to Facebook and Facebook’s users," said Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, a member of the Canadian Parliament.

Over the weekend, the British Parliament took the extraordinary step of seizing a trove of documents from a U.S. app developer locked in a legal battle with Facebook. The documents reportedly contain correspondence from within Facebook, including between Zuckerberg and other executives.

Damian Collins, who heads the U.K.'s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the panel would not be releasing the documents on Tuesday, but revealed certain details contained within the cache.

According to Collins, a Facebook engineer notified the company in October 2014 that Russian accounts had been pulling 3 billion data points a day from the Facebook platform. Allan didn't answer questions about whether the company had notified authorities of the warning but promised to follow up.

The documents were seized from a company called Six4Three, a controversial developer which had made an application to find bikini pictures posted on Facebook by users' friends. Six4Three sued Facebook after the social network closed off the friends data pipeline for app developers in 2014.

The documents had been obtained in the discovery phase of the lawsuit and were under seal in a California court.

Allan also said the documents themselves shouldn't be made public and that they don't provide a full accurate look inside the company.

"The context that I’m giving is really to say that any information you’ve seen in that cache of emails is at best partial and at worst potentially misleading," Allan said.

— Updated 11:10 a.m.