An international coalition of elected officials investigating disinformation and election meddling has grown to include politicians from eight countries, according to a letter they sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, reiterating calls for him to address their “international grand committee.”
Legislators from Brazil, Latvia and Singapore said in the letter that they will join officials from Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Argentina in conducting the unprecedented hearing on Nov. 27.
Zuckerberg initially turned down an invitation by Damian Collins, a member of Britain’s Parliament, and Bob Zimmer, a Canadian lawmaker. He turned down a renewed offer last week after the committee expanded to include lawmakers from Argentina, Australia and Ireland. A representative of Facebook UK wrote at the time that Zuckerberg would be unable to get to London for the hearing.
“Thank you for the invitation to appear before your Grand Committee. As we explained in our letter of November 2nd, Mr. Zuckerberg is not able to be in London on November 27th for your hearing and sends his apologies,” Stimson wrote.
But the committee, now eight countries strong, suggested a new option for Zuckerberg in a letter sent Friday and released to the public on Monday.
“We note that while your letter states that you are ‘not able to be in London’ on 27th, it does not rule out giving evidence per se. Would you be amenable to giving evidence via video link instead?” they wrote.
Asked if Zuckerberg is considering addressing the committee remotely, a representative of Facebook said in an email to CBS News, “We don’t have anything further to share at this stage, but we’ll let you know if this changes.”
Facebook has repeatedly pointed out that its founder has appeared before Congress and the European Union Parliament, saying in a Nov. 2 letter, “It is not possible for Mr. Zuckerberg to be available to all Parliaments.”
The members of the “international grand committee” have sought to alleviate that issue by coming together, inviting Zuckerberg to meet with them all at once, instead of separately.
The campaign to question Zuckerberg comes on the heels of a Nov. 5 report in which Britain’s Information Commissioner concluded “Facebook… failed to keep [users’] personal information secure because it failed to make suitable checks on apps and developers using its platform.”
A previous scathing preliminary report released by Collins’ committee in July called for increased oversight of social media companies and election campaigns, while highlighting the use of “scraped” Facebook data by companies associated with the successful Brexit campaign and President Donald Trump’s 2016 run.
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