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Committee pushes for Zuckerberg appearance after Facebook CTO's unsatisfactory evidence

26 April 2018

Following the questioning of Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's Chief Technology Officer, today at a public session of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, MPs are still pressing to take evidence from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

MPs found the majority of Mr Schroepfer's answers about Facebook's business practices, including their policies on the privacy and protection of users' data and their relationship with Cambridge Analytica and associated companies, to be unsatisfactory.

Questions that remain unanswered

Mr Schroepfer, who was appearing as a witness in the Committee's inquiry into Fake News, failed to answer fully on nearly 40 separate points, including:

  • Whether Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica when Facebook gave evidence to the Committee on February 8th
  • How much money was made and kept from dark ads, and whether there is any archive or record kept by Facebook of dark ads
  • The fact that an individual adapting their privacy settings cannot absolutely block all categories of ads 
  • How many developers there were at the time before they made these 2014 policy changes between 2011-2014
  • Why they moved one and a half billion accounts to Facebook Inc from Facebook Irl a month before GDPR came into force
  • Facebook using the data of individuals who are not on Facebook.
  • What changes they are about to make ahead of GDPR in terms of becoming fully compliant as Mr Schroepfer emphasised

Mr Schroepfer promised to have his team follow up with the Committee a total of nearly 40 times on these points and others. This is especially disappointing to the Committee considering that in his testimony to Congress Mark Zuckerberg also failed to give convincing answers to some questions.

Although Mr Schroepfer is the most senior official from Facebook ever to appear before a UK Parliamentary Committee, the company has so far declined to send Mr Zuckerberg despite repeated requests from the Chair of the Committee, Damian Collins MP.

Chair's comment

Damian Collins MP, Chair of the DCMS Committee, said:

"Mr Schroepfer, Mark Zuckerberg's right hand man whom we were assured could represent his views, today failed to answer many specific and detailed questions about Facebook's business practices. We will be asking him to respond in writing to the committee on these points; however, we are mindful that it took a global reputational crisis and three months for the company to follow up on questions we put to them in Washington D.C. on February 8th.

We believe that, given the large number of outstanding questions for Facebook to answer, Mark Zuckerberg should still appear in front of the Committee. We note, in particular, reports that he intends to travel to Europe in May to give evidence to the European Parliament, and will request that he appears in front of the DCMS Committee before the 24th May.

There are over 40 million Facebook users in the UK and they deserve to hear answers from Mark Zuckerberg about the company he created and whether it is able to keep their users' data safe.

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."

Further information

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