Damian Collins calls international 'fake news' hearing and calls on Mark Zuckerberg to 'make himself available'

Damian Collins calls international 'fake news' hearing and calls on Mark Zuckerberg to 'make himself available'

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Damian Collins has partnered with Canadian MP Bob Zimmer in a bid to crack down on ‘fake news’ across the world.

Mr Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, and Mr Zimmer, Chair of the Canadian Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, are seeking to form an ‘international grand committee’ on disinformation and have invited other parliaments to send representatives to take part.

The hearing will be held on Tuesday 27 November, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been invited.

A spokesperson for the DCMS committee said it was the “third or fourth” time Mr Zuckerberg had been asked to attend such a meeting.


'It's time the man in charge of Facebook made himself available'

Listen: Damian Collins tells talkRADIO it's time for Mark Zuckerberg to 'make himself available'

Asked if he thought Mr Zuckerberg might change his mind and attend this time, Mr Collins said: “This is something that’s never happened before.

“We’ve also invited members of other parliaments around the world as well that we know are interested in these topics. I think the fact we’re doing this shows how seriously we take these issues, the concerns about disinformation campaigns spreading through sites like Facebook, concerns about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and whether data is secure on Facebook and who gets their hands on it...

“I think it’s time that the man who’s ultimately in charge of Facebook made himself available to answer our questions about it. We appreciate that he can’t visit every parliament in the world - that’s why we’ve taken the unprecedented step of bringing different parliamentarians together so we can question him in a special hearing.

In May, Mr Collins warned that he would issue a formal summons to Mr Zuckerberg if he visited the UK - he could have been found in contempt of parliament if he received one and didn’t attend.

“We can only issue a summons if he’s in the UK, he’s not under the jurisdiction of parliament as an American citizen,” said Mr Collins.

“What we’ve said in the past is that if he visited the UK we’d issue a summons for him to attend the committee but he’s not done so since we made that clear.”

Facebook sent its chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer to a hearing in April, but the committee found his answers “unsatisfactory” to questions about “policies on the privacy and protection of users’ data and their relationship with Cambridge Analytica”, and said they would continue to push for Mr Zuckerberg.


'Missed opportunity'

Mr Collins called disinformation a "global problem" and added: "People get their news in bitesize chunks through Facebook, and if what people see isn’t true or is misleading, and it’s not clear, this is a big problem.

"It’s time the tech companies faced up to their responsibilities in the spreading of harmful misleading content."

The Facebook tycoon did appear before the European Parliament, however, answering questions on similar topics in May.

Mr Collins called the EU hearing a “missed opportunity”.