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Zuckerberg won’t Talk to Parliament about Cambridge Analytica

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the TechCrunch Conference at SF Design Center on September 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage) *** Local Caption *** Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has refused to appear before the UK’s Parliamentary Committee for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, which is investigating the use and misuse of social media information in the wake of media revelations. analytica

The committee reached out to Zuckerberg on March 20, after The Observer, Channel4 and The New York Times reported that data science firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed and used Facebook data on 50 million people while managing political campaigns. The revelations clashed with previous statements by Facebook, which had previously defended before the DSMS committee that Cambridge Analytica had no Facebook data.

“They may have lots of data, but it will not be Facebook user data,” Facebook’s employee Simon Milner told the Committee in February. “It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided.”

Committee’s chair Damian Collins has now sent a strongly-worded letter to Facebook’s boss.

“It is now time that I hear from a senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process,” Collins wrote in his letter. “There is a strong public interest test regarding user protection. Accordingly we are sure you will understand the need for a representative from right at the top of the organisation to address concerns. Given your commitment at the start of the New Year to ‘fixing’ Facebook, I hope that this representative will be you.”

But Zuckerberg has no intention to heed the summons. In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that someone else would be better suited to answer the Committee’s questions instead:

“We have responded to Mr Collins and the DCMS and offered for two senior company representatives from our management team to meet with the Committee depending on timings most convenient for them. Mike Schroepfer is Chief Technology Officer and is responsible for Facebook’s technology including the company’s developer platform.  Chris Cox is Facebook’s Chief Product Officer and leads development of Facebook’s core products and features including News Feed.  Both Chris Cox and Mike Schroepfer report directly to Mark Zuckerberg and are among the longest serving senior representatives in Facebook’s 15 year history,” the spokesperson said.

Following Facebook’s answer, Collins made no attempt to disguise his disappointment.

“I must say that given the extraordinary evidence we’ve heard so far today, and the things we’ve heard in the other enquiry, I think it’s absolutely astonishing that Mark Zuckerberg is not prepared to submit himself to questioning in front of a parliamentary or congressional hearing given that these are questions of a fundamental importance and concern to Facebook users and to our enquiry as well,” he said during a Committee hearing.

“We would certainly urge him to think again if he has any care for people who use him company’s services.”

Image via Wikimedia

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