Canadian MPs among global lawmakers grilling Facebook executive in UK Parliament

Lawmakers were also critical of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for failing to show up to answer questions

Canadian MPs joined lawmakers from nine countries Tuesday who accused Facebook, during a rare international hearing, of undermining democratic institutions.

The lawmakers were also critical of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for failing to show up to answer questions in Britain’s parliament about disinformation and “fake news” carried on social media websites.

Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice-president for policy solutions, was left to answer questions in London in place of Zuckerberg, who ignored repeated requests to appear at the committee.

Allan, sitting next to an empty chair reserved for Zuckerberg, said the Facebook founder and CEO had already appeared before numerous other committees this year. He acknowledged that the company has not been without blame in how it handled various scandals.

“I’m not going to disagree with you that we’ve damaged public trust with some of the actions we’ve taken,” he said.

Allan was responding to Canadian opposition New Democrat MP Charlie Angus, who said the social media giant has “lost the trust of the international community to self-police,” and that lawmakers have to start looking at ways to hold the company accountable.

READ MORE: Facebook blocks 115 accounts ahead of US midterm elections

“We’ve never seen anything quite like Facebook, where, while we were playing on our phones and apps, our democratic institutions … seem to have been upended by frat-boy billionaires from California,” said Angus, who sits on the House of Commons access to information, privacy and ethics committee. 

Zuckerberg has also ignored requests to appear for testimony in Canada.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith also joined British lawmakers and their counterparts from Belgium, France, Brazil, Argentina, France, Singapore, Ireland and Latvia at the hearing held by the U.K. parliament’s digital, culture, media and sport committee.

Allan agreed with Erskine-Smith when he said it appeared Facebook has been negligent in not acting sooner to remove disinformation from its pages.

Zuckerberg accepts that what’s needed is “a regulatory framework and action by responsible companies like ours — it’s the two in tandem,” Allan said.

Facebook has been under fire from users and lawmakers after it said last year that Russian agents used its platform to spread disinformation before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied the allegation.

The hearing came after the committee’s chairman, Damian Collins, took the unusual move of forcing the CEO of an app maker to turn over confidential Facebook documents.

Collins said the meeting marked the first time since the 1930s that members from other parliaments have sat in on a British hearing. The last time was to discuss Indian constitutional reform.

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

PHOTOS: B.C. Day long weekend on White Rock beach

Hundreds of families gathered at the beach Sunday

Seeds of Change Surrey to launch two new programs

United Way of the Lower Mainland donated $77,000

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Wildfire breaks out near Harrison Hot Springs

1.5 hectare fire is reportedly human caused

Police lay out details of mental health response in Abbotsford over long weekend

APD officers assist mental health team for three hours yesterday, man sent to hospital with injury

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch playoff spot with win

Bandits down Niagara River Lions 70-57 on Sunday, improve to 3-2

Most Read