Mark Zuckerberg Refuses Invite from World Leaders To Answer Disinformation Questions: Report

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has turned down an international committee’s invitation to appear to answer questions about disinformation and election meddling.

The International Grand Committee on Disinformation and “Fake News” has scheduled its next hearing on Nov. 7 as part of its investigation into the use of social media to influence elections. This committee includes representatives from the U.K., Canada, Singapore, Saint Lucia, Ireland, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Morocco and Estonia.

Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, will join the committee in November.

Facebook’s head of public policy for Ireland, Dualta Ó Broin, told lawmakers Zuckerberg wouldn’t attend the hearing, citing his testimonies in front of Congress and the European Union Parliament, CBS News reported Monday.

This is the third time Zuckerberg has refused to attend the international panel’s hearings, according to CBS News. Lower-level Facebook executives attended the previous two hearings in Zuckerberg’s place.

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Hildegarde Naughton, who will be overseeing the November hearing in Dublin, told the outlet that the committee members were disappointed but would still continue their investigation into tech companies.

“[T]his will not prevent the Committee continuing its work and holding social media companies to account for their lack of transparency and inability to self-regulate,” Naughton said.

Of course, not all of the lawmakers were understanding of Zuckerberg’s invitation refusals.

“Should Mr. Zuckerberg or [Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl] Sandberg come to Canada for any reason, for a tech conference or to go fishing, they should be served a summons,” Canadian Member of Parliament Charlie Angus said.

Do you think Zuckerberg is hiding something from this committee?

The chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the U.K. Parliament, Damian Collins, said in a February interview that Zuckerberg would also be issued a summons in the U.K., and if he “refused to accept that summons then we could start contempt proceedings against him.”

Collins, in particular, has taken great interest in Facebook’s dealings with the British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and sent a letter to Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, on Thursday outlining some of his concerns — namely, that the tech company ignored calls from employees to investigate Cambridge Analytica for “scraping” users’ personal information.

“Furthermore, the statement that scraping ‘is unfortunately common for any internet service’ does not explain why your employees were motivated to call for an investigation into Cambridge Analytica in September 2015 or why their calls were subsequently ignored,” the letter read.

The committee’s two previous hearings were held in Canada and in the U.K.

Facebook executives Neil Potts and Kevin Chan were questioned at the hearing in May in Ottawa about an altered video of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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The committee’s first meeting was held in London on Nov. 27, 2018. At this hearing, Facebook executive Richard Allen answered questions about Sri Lankan posts that encouraged people to “kill all Muslims” and why the company was unable to block them, CBS News reported.

At this hearing, Allen allegedly promised the committee he would provide a list “of action taken against apps and developers that have violated Facebook’s policies to date,” according to Collins’ Sept. 5 letter, reiterating the committee’s desire for such a document.

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