Parliamentary bodies from five countries are now calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about the problem of fake news on Facebook. And Zuckerberg is saying no to all of them.
Zuckerberg has rejected a request to appear before an a consortium, referred to by themselves as an “international grand committee,” headed by the United Kingdom. Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Ireland are also part of the group, which will meet on November 27.
Facebook, in a letter to British and Canadian officials, said it was “not possible” for Zuckerberg to appear before all of them.
The concept of an international grand committee is unprecedented, but it underscores the concern over the effect of disinformation on free elections. Given Facebook’s role in the spread of fake news during the 2016 U.S. elections, many nations have pressured the company to discuss the steps it is taking to prevent future spreads.
Zuckerberg has testified before the U.S. Congress and the European Union Parliament already. (Both were filled with awkward moments, including one where Zuckerberg and Texas Senator Ted Cruz sparred verbally.)
That’s not enough for the governments looking for answers now, though.
“We were very disappointed with this dismissive response….Five parliaments are now calling on you to do the right thing by the 170 million users in the countries they represent,” the committee wrote after receiving the letter from Facebook.
Facebook has been in especially hot water since it was disclosed that roughly 50 million Facebook users’ data was surreptitiously passed to the right-wing political consultancy Cambridge Analytica in 2014. Facebook learned of the data abuse in 2015, when it sought assurances from Cambridge Analytica and the academic Aleksandr Kogan (who harvested the data) that the data had been deleted (it wasn’t), but did not tell affected users about the incident until earlier this year.
Zuckerberg stayed largely silent on the matter until growing user backlash forced him to issue a statement, where he apologized and vowed to give users more control over their data.