Friday 21 September 2018

Zuckerberg turns down Commons committee grilling

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is under pressure. Photo: PA
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is under pressure. Photo: PA

Henry Vaughan

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has turned down an invitation to give evidence to a House of Commons committee investigating allegations of misuse of the data of the social media giant's users.

But the chairman of the influential Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Damian Collins, repeated his call for Mr Zuckerberg to face a public grilling, saying it would be "appropriate" for him to answer MPs' questions in person or by video link.

The committee issued an invitation to the Facebook billionaire to attend a hearing of the fake news inquiry on March 20, after whistleblower Christopher Wylie revealed how UK-based data firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) harvested details of 50 million users on the social networking site.

The details were allegedly used to micro-target campaign messages in support of Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential election.

In a letter to Mr Collins, Facebook's head of public policy Rebecca Stimson said that, despite a request for Mr Zuckerberg to attend in person, the company would be putting forward chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer or chief product officer Chris Cox to answer MPs' questions.

Both are among Facebook's longest-serving senior representatives and are "well-placed to answer the committee's questions on these complex subjects" straight after the end of Parliament's Easter recess on April 16.

Mr Collins said the committee would be "happy" to issue an invitation to Mr Cox, but made clear that he was not withdrawing the call for Mr Zuckerberg to give evidence. "We believe, given the serious nature of the allegations that have been made around the access and use of Facebook user data, that it is appropriate that Mark Zuckerberg should give evidence to the committee," said Mr Collins.

"We would be very happy to invite Mr Cox to give evidence.

"However, we would still like to hear from Mr Zuckerberg as well.

"We will seek to clarify from Facebook whether he is available to give evidence or not, because that wasn't clear from our correspondence.

"If he is available to give evidence then we would be happy to do that either in person or by video link, if that would be more convenient for him."

Mr Collins's comments came at the start of a committee hearing in which Mr Wylie was being questioned on his revelations about CA, where he was formerly director of research.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News