The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Pres­sure on so­cial me­dia chief to tes­tify


The chair­man of the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into fake news has threat­ened Face­book founder Mark Zucker­berg with a for­mal sum­mons to give ev­i­dence be­fore the in­quiry in per­son.

The move came af­ter an “un­sat­is­fac­tory” hear­ing with an­other Face­book ex­ec­u­tive yes­ter­day.

In a state­ment fol­low­ing nearly five hours of tes­ti­mony from Face­book’s chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Mike Schroepfer, chair­man Damian Collins said Mr Schroepfer “failed to an­swer many spe­cific and de­tailed ques­tions” about the com­pany’s role in a num­ber of scan­dals about how po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns use the plat­form.

“Com­mit­tee will re­solve to is­sue a for­mal sum­mons”

“As an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, Mr Zucker­berg does not nor­mally come un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the UK Par­lia­ment, but he will the next time he en­ters the coun­try.

“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,” Mr Collins said.

Ear­lier, Mr Schroepfer told the com­mit­tee that Ag­gre­gate IQ, a Cana­dian firm em­ployed by mul­ti­ple Brexit cam­paign groups, spent £1.4 mil­lion on po­lit­i­cal ad­verts on Face­book tar­get­ing the EU ref­er­en­dum, but had used “email lists” to tar­get vot­ers rather than Face­book data.

If a for­mal sum­mons is is­sued and Mr Zucker­berg re­fuses he could tech­ni­cally be in con­tempt of par­lia­ment.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to a green pa­per on par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege, “the House’s power to pun­ish non-mem­bers for con­tempt is untested in re­cent times”.

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