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If at first you don’t succeed in getting Mark Zuckerberg to meet with your lawmakers — team up with another country.
That’s the approach Canadian and U.K. lawmakers appear to be trying.
U.K. MP Damian Collins this morning tweeted out a letter on behalf of himself and Canadian MP Bob Zimmer, asking Zuckerberg to testify in front of a joint hearing held by the U.K. and Canadian House of Commons — a type of hearing that would be unprecedented. The hearing, which will deal with misinformation and fake news, will be held at Westminster on November 27. Collins and Zimmer are asking for a response from Zuckerberg and Facebook by November 7.
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) October 31, 2018
“Over the past year, our committees have both sought evidence from a Facebook executive with sufficient authority to give an accurate account of recent failures of process, including the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal and subsequent data breaches,” the letter reads. “You have chosen instead to send less senior representatives, and have not yourself appeared, despite having taken up invitations from the U.S. Congress and Senate, and the European Parliament.”
“We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments,” the letter continues. “However, we believe that your users in other countries need a line of accountability to your organisation — directly, via yourself.” The letter says that while the hearing will be led by Canada and the U.K., other countries’ parliaments could join in.
Both Collins and Zimmer head up the committees in their respective parliaments that are in charge of overseeing social media and digital policies. The U.K. Parliament already tried in March to get Zuckerberg to testify. This happened shortly after news broke that Facebook had failed to stop Cambridge Analytica from improperly obtaining user data and using it for ad targeting.
After Facebook repeatedly turned down requests for Zuckerberg to appear, the U.K. Parliament said he would face a formal summons to testify the next time he was in the country. Zuckerberg did meet with and field questions from the European Parliament in May.
If the joint approach is successful in getting Zuckerberg to show up, it could be critical in setting a precedent for how countries other than the U.S. attempt to deal with Facebook going forward. Facebook has historically been reluctant to send Zuckerberg to meet with other countries’ lawmakers. But with the company now setting up fact-checking operations in various countries to stop the spread of disinformation, as well as political ad archives in the U.K., U.S., and Brazil, its operations stand to have more of an effect than ever before on foreign elections.
VentureBeat has reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this story if we hear back.
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