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April 6, 2018updated 09 Apr 2018 10:35am

Facebook ‘locks down’ building as Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow looks for answers on data scandal

By Arun Kakar

Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow said he saw “panic stations” inside Facebook’s London headquarters after attempting to secure an interview by walking up to the front door.

Snow visited the UK offices of the social network to “look for answers” yesterday after Facebook revealed that 87m users could have been affected by data harvesting allegedly carried out by Cambridge Analytica.

This data is then said to have been used to influence voters in the US presidential election and possibly the Brexit vote. In the UK alone, more than 1m users’ data was harvested.

Channel 4 News editor Ben De Pear said: “For more than 22 days since Channel 4 News broadcast revelations about Facebook we have asked them for an interview; to no effect whatsoever.

“Today I sent Jon Snow down to their London HQ to try and get answers in person.”

Filmed knocking on the windows and peering in at Facebook’s HQ, Snow said: “…They’ve actually locked the building down and they’re not letting me in… there’s panic stations in here.”

He added: “We’ve given Facebook many opportunities over last few weeks since we broke this story, to talk to us. Not once have they agreed to do so.”

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At a press conference on Wednesday, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg took questions from the BBC, Reuters  and Buzzfeed among others, but not Channel 4.

Snow tweeted: “When Mr Zuckerberg dared to give a news conference, not by the high-tech instrumentation that his own company runs, but by an old crackly phone. We were not allowed to ask a question.”

He added: “Are [you] scared of something Mr Zuckerberg? Why refuse questions at Facebook’s media session from Siobhan Kennedy of Channel 4 News… were your staff too afraid of dealing with one single question from her?

Channel 4 News was one of three news organisations, including the Observer and New York Times, to expose the data harvesting scandal.

Its reporters went undercover to interview Cambridge Analytica boss Alexander Nix. Nix is set to appear before MPs on 18 April.

The scoop from last month from the Observer was shared with Channel 4 and the New York Times prior to publication. 

Facebook declined Press Gazette’s request for comment.

Press Gazette understands Channel 4 has been invited to recent Facebook briefings, including Zuckerberg’s press conference about the alleged data harvesting, which lasted more than an hour and took questions from 30 international press outlets.

Picture: Channel 4 News 

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