An international committee hosted in London later this month will be attended by representatives of a number of governments around the world – but will they be joined by the Facebook CEO?
Credit: Andrej Sokolow/DPA/PA Images
MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee have stepped up their efforts to bring in Mark Zuckerberg for questioning by teaming up with their peers in Canada to host an “international grand committee”.
The DCMS committee has – in a series of increasingly exasperated missives – repeatedly requested that the Facebook chief appear before MPs to give evidence in their ongoing inquiry into “disinformation and fake news”. But Zuckerberg has, thus far, declined to do so.
The latest attempt to compel him to give evidence is an invitation to appear before an “international grand committee” to be held in London on 27 November. This gathering will be jointly hosted by the DCMS committee and the Canadian Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. Additionally, “a number of other parliaments are likely to be represented”, according to a letter jointly sent to Zuckerberg by respective committee chairs Damian Collins and Bob Zimmer.
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The letter noted that, while Zuckerberg has this year appeared before both Congress and Senate in the US, as well as the European Parliament, he has “chosen to send less senior representatives” when invited to answer questions from politicians in the UK and Canada.
“We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments,” Collins and Zimmer said. “However, we believe that your users in other countries need a line of accountability to your organisation—directly, via yourself. We would have thought that this responsibility is something that you would want to take up.”
Both committees plan to publish their final reports on fake news and online disinformation before the end of 2018. A contribution of evidence from the Facebook CEO is “overdue, and urgent”, the letter said.
“No such joint hearing has ever been held. Given your self-declared objective to ‘fix’ Facebook, and to prevent the platform’s malign use in world affairs and democratic process, we would like to give you the chance to appear at this hearing,” it added. “We call on you to take up this historic opportunity to tell parliamentarians from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond about the measures Facebook is taking to halt the spread of disinformation on your platform, and to protect user data.”
Zuckerberg has been asked to respond to the request by Wednesday 7 November.