Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg summonsed to appear before MPs, as data scandals intensify. | UK and Canadian governments join forces to quiz Facebook CEO over disinformation and fake news. Mark Zuckerberg has been summonsed to appear before MPs from both the UK and Canadian parliaments, as the fallout from Facebook’s data scandals continue. In the past, the Facebook boss has repeatedly refused to appear in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee. Zuckerberg has chosen instead to send a high ranking member of Facebook’s staff in his place. Now the two governments have joined up in an unprecedented move to force Mr Zuckerberg to appear before them. Damian Collins, chair of the UK body, referred to this as an “international grand committee” to quiz Facebook’s co-founder.

Mark Zuckerberg summonsed … will he appear?

The Independent reports that Mr Collins will work with Bob Zimmer, chair of the Canadian Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, to hold the hearing on disinformation and fake news. The hearing, scheduled to take place on 27 November, will be led by the DCMS committee, with Mark Zuckerberg summonsed to appear. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg faced questions from Members of the European Parliament. The hearing followed Facebook’s involvement in a data scandal over the misuse of data in elections worldwide. Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, asked Mr Zuckerberg. …

I really think we have a big problem here and it is not going to be solved by saying we are going to fix it ourselves. You have to ask yourself how you will be remembered. As one of the 3 big Internet giants together with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who have enriched our world and our societies? Or a genius who created a digital monster that is destroying our democracies and our societies?

According to the Express, Zuckerberg was subjected to an 80-minute hearing, but was left only seven of those minutes to answer the questions put to him by MEPs. In his opening statement, Zuckerberg said: “We haven’t done enough to prevent Facebook from being used for harm.” Techonomy founder David Kirpatrick commented on Bloomberg. …

The real issue is about how Facebook is being used to undermine democratic society around the world.

Caught between Wall Steet and society

Market analysts are warning that the up-down, up-down behaviour of Facebook stock is not inspiring market confidence. Commenting on how Facebook’s rising costs fit together with regulatory concerns, Paul Sweeney of Bloomberg Intelligence said:

It’s one thing to have higher expenses associated with data privacy and data integrity. They [Facebook] doubled their workforce to about another 10,000 employees. …they’re stepping up their R&D to take care of the data privacy and data integrity issues. …That’s one thing. The concern that investors have is that it does bleed over to the brand. Then advertisers start pulling back a little bit on the margin.

Indicators suggest 2019 could be an uncertain year for Facebook, as the tech giant tries to dumb down negative reports.  Responding to the rising expense issue, Zuckerberg said:

… looking beyond 2019, I know we need to make sure that our costs and revenue are better matched over time. And that’s something that I’m focused on as well.

When asked on Bloomberg Technology news, if Facebook could grow revenures and profits, while dealing with societal issues of undermining real news and discussion and democracy in real society, Sweeney said. …

…I think there’s no evidence that they’re really directly addressing that. I don’t even know what it means that “our revenue and expenses ought to be more matched going forward”. That’s a sort of weirdly opaque formulation. …we are just beginning to see all the different ways that Facebook can undermine social dialogue. They are making progress. They are spending a lot of money. But I just think we are at the beginning of an incredibly painful long journey of trying to remediate the problems this service is bringing on society. They’d better solve these social problems, or they’re in big social trouble.

  Sources and credits:  The Independent, Bloomberg, The Express

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