Hah, You Think Mark Zuckerberg is Scared of the Government's Puny Threats?

By Tom Pritchard on at

Back in March, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mark Zuckerberg suddenly found himself the most sought after man in the English-speaking world. He was summoned to testify in front of the US Congress, to which he happily showed up to awkwardly drink water and answer their ignorant questions. He was also asked to appear in front of Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, and promptly turned down that invitation in favour of sending some lackeys. 

While the committee attempted to get Zuckerberg to answer their questions personally, even if he was only available via video link, their requests were still refused. It got to the point where they threatened to arrest him the next time he came to the UK if he continued to dodge their summons.  But those threats are not enough to make Zuckerberg care enough to turn up.

Facebook’s head of public policy, Rebecca Stimson, wrote to the committee confirming that Zuckerberg still had no plans to meet its members and answer their questions in person. Basically their threats are being ignored, and to make matters worse the letter was sent three days after the deadline Facebook had been given to respond.

While the questions the committee asked were generally more well informed than those members of Congress asked Zuckerberg during his testimony (you can read them here), the committee isn't said to be particularly happy with the answers offered by Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer. That's why they repeated their request for Zuckerberg to speak in person, with the hope that he could also provide more competent answers.

Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, released a statement earlier today expressed disappointment with Zuckerberg's continued disinterest in facing British lawmakers himself. He also reiterated the fact that the committee realises he's a busy man who might not be able to make the journey, and is open to speak to him via video link.

While our government can't exactly extradite Zuckerberg and haul him in for questioning, it does mean he risks being forced in front of lawmakers the next time he's in the country. Or failing that he could be arrested for not playing ball. At the very least continually snubbing the committee is likely to annoy people in the government, many of whom have already been critical of Facebook - especially with regard to its the topic of fake news and alleged inaction against the spread of hate speech.

Facebook hasn't offered any explanation as to why Zuckerberg won't appear in front of the committee, especially since it has plenty of tools in its arsenal to set up a video link without resorting to something rubbish like Skype. There are bound to be a lot of reasons why Zuckerberg might not want to take part, but continued silence just ends up reflecting badly on him and his company in a time where they need all the good PR they can get. [Parliament via The Verge]