MPs threaten to summons Zuckerberg to answer Facebook data questions

MPs warn Mark Zuckerberg they are ready to issue a SUMMONS to force him to give evidence on Facebook data scandal saying 40million UK users deserve answers

  • MPs have written to Mark Zuckerberg demanding he comes to give evidence
  • Say 40million UK users deserve ‘answers’ over the Facebook data controversy
  • Facebook chief tech officer Mike Schroepfer appeared before MPs last week 
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MPs today warned Mark Zuckerberg they are ready to issue a formal summons to force him to give evidence on the Facebook data scandal.

The Culture Committee has written to the billionaire insisting the 40million UK users of his site deserve ‘answers’.

There was fury last week after it emerged Mr Zuckerberg has agreed to give evidence to the European Parliament – despite still snubbing the House of Commons inquiry.

He has already appeared before the US senate, but sent a deputy to be grilled by the MPs. 

Furious MPs are demanding Mark Zuckerberg (pictured giving evidence to Congress last month) comes personally to answer their questions

The Culture Committee has written to the billionaire insisting the 40million UK users of his site deserve ‘answers’

Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Damian Collins stunned his colleagues by revealing the development while they grilled another executive sent in Mr Zuckerberg’s place 

In a letter to Facebook UK’s head of public policy Rebecca Stimson, committee chairman Damian Collins wrote: ‘Following reports that he will be giving evidence to the European Parliament in May, we would like Mr Zuckerberg to come to London during his European trip. We would like the session here to take place by 24 May.

‘It is worth noting that, while Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country.

What are the accusations against Cambridge Analytica?

Who are Cambridge Analytica?

Cambridge Analytica has been thrown into turmoil after finding itself in the middle of Facebook data harvesting

The firm, which has offices in London, New York and Washington, boasts to clients that it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’.

What are their ties to Aleksandr Kogan? 

The controversy centres around their use of the GSR app, developed by the Cambridge University research Dr Aleksandr Kogan.

Facebook users used the app to answer a personality survey which plundered the data of 100million users.

How was Cambridge Analytica  used in the Brexit and Trump campaigns?

It has been claimed that Cambridge Analytica used the information to assess peoples’ personalities and come up with political strategies to sway voters to back Brexit and Donald Trump.

The firm has insisted it did no actual work for the Brexit campaign – although it did pitch for work with Leave.EU.

But whistleblowers say that Arron Banks – the co founder of Leave.EU – used the ideas gleaned from the itch to pursue his own CA-style model to predict and influence voters’ behaviour in the EU referendum.

Mr Banks denied the allegations 

Cambridge Analytica suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims.

Why was Vote Leave embroiled in the scandal?

It is also claimed that campaign chiefs at Vote Leave – the official pro Brexit campaign group – may have broken the law in the campaign.

It is claimed that they donated £650,000 to the other pro Brexit group BeLeave in the final days of the campaign and told them to spend it on data advertising by the Canadian firm Aggregate IQ – breaking election rules. 

Whistleblowers have claimed that Cambridge Analytica has undisclosed links to the Canadian digital firm AggregateIQ  

‘We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the Committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK.’

Facebook’s chief technical officer Mike Schroepfer testified before the inquiry on April 26 but Mr Collins complained that his evidence ‘lacked many of the important details that we need’.  

During the hearing last week, Facebook’s chief technical officer was told his company was ‘the problem’ at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica crisis.

Mr Schroepfer vowed that by next year’s local elections, British voters would have access to more information about how and why they see political advertising on Facebook. 

In heated exchanges more than an hour into the hearing, Tory MP Julian Knight condemned Facebook’s attempt to escape blame for Cambridge Analytica wrongly using users’ data. 

Mr Knight blasted: ‘I put it to you that Facebook is a morality-free zone.

‘You aren’t an innocent party maligned by the likes of Cambridge Analytica: you are the problem.’

Mr Schroepfer replied: ‘I respectfully disagree with that assessment.

‘You want us to say we’re responsible, which we have on multiple occasions, and you want transparency on ads and other things.

‘The core of our job is to build a service which helps millions of people connect with each other around the world every day.’

Mr Schroepfer apologised for Facebook’s decision to send legal letters to journalists covering the story in a bid to stop the expose coming out.    

Turning to the 2016 EU Referendum, Mr Schroepfer said Facebook had found no evidence Cambridge Analytica had spent money on advertising during the referendum.

But Aggregate IQ, a linked company which multiple Brexit campaign groups spent large portions of their campaign budget with, ‘spent two million dollars on the Brexit referendum in the UK in 2016,’ he said.

Mr Schroepfer stressed that political advertising on Facebook is ‘a very small, low, single-digit percentage of our advertising revenue’ and the company believes transparency is the best way to protect voters from malicious political ads.

‘There are a number of challenges you’ve raised and we need to do better,’ he said, but added that, for people outside the political mainstream, the combination of Facebook pages and advertising on the platform is ‘a powerful tool of free speech’.

The solution, he claimed, is greater transparency around who is paying for political adverts on Facebook and making the content of those adverts visible to everyone.

Facebook executive Mike Schroepfer (pictured in Parliament last week) was accused of working in a ‘morality free zone’ by MPs investigating fake news

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