Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been called to appear before an “international grand committee” on “fake news” made up of British and Canadian MPs previously snubbed by the tech billionaire.
The joint hearing, said to be the first of its kind, is due to take place on 27 November and will be led by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Zuckerberg has until 7 November to reply to the call.
- January 15, 2021
- December 17, 2020
- December 15, 2020
Members of the DCMS Committee equivalent in Canada – the Canadian Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics – will also attend the session, due to be held in Westminster.
Other parliaments are also being invited to send representatives to the hearing.
A DCMS Committee spokesperson said the hearing “will allow collaborative scrutiny by national committees of both the Westminster Parliament and the Parliament of Canada in their examinations of digital policy, including disinformation and governance of the internet”.
Both committees have previously called for Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, to give evidence over the platform’s failures of process and data breaches, but without success.
Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in April after the Observer, together with the New York Times and Channel 4 News, revealed that data from millions of Facebook users’ data had been harvested by UK firm Cambridge Analytica and potentially used to target them with political ads.
The UK’s fake news inquiry is led by DCMS Committee chairman Damian Collins MP.
In a letter to Zuckerberg, he said: “We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments.
“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.”
Collins added: “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.
“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.”
The DCMS Committee plans to issue a final report on fake news and disinformation by the end of December.
Collins said Zuckerberg’s evidence to the inquiry was now “overdue and urgent”.
Facebook has attempted to tackle the issue of fake news being shared on the platform. It also recently moved to improve political ad transparency by forcing ad buyers in the UK to verify their identity and location.