Facebook CEO Mark Zuckeberg has refused for the third time to appear before the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and “Fake News” which will meet in an extraordinary session on Nov. 7.
Facebook’s public policy director in Ireland, Dualta Ó Broin, was in charge of communicating Zuckerberg’s decision not to attend on the basis of his previous testimonies to U.S. Congress and the European Parliament, according to CBS News.
Hildegarde Naughton, chair of Ireland’s Oireachtas Communications Committee, who will oversee the November hearing, said in a statement to CBS News she is “obviously disappointed that Mr. Zuckerberg has declined a third request to appear before the International Grand Committee.”
“However this will not prevent the Committee continuing its work and holding social media companies to account for their lack of transparency and inability to self-regulate,” Naughton said.
The International Grand Committee on Disinformation and “Fake News” is made up of legislators from a dozen countries who investigate very intensively the role of social networks, specifically Facebook, in alleged efforts to influence elections and public opinion in general.
The representatives of the United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Saint Lucia, Ireland, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Morocco, and Estonia have already met twice in the past year: in London in February and in May in Ottawa, Canada.
The extraordinary meeting on Nov. 7 will be attended for the first time by a representative of the United States, Congressman David Cicilline (D-R.I.), current chairman of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.
After refusing to appear before the committee during the February meeting in London, the U.K. government warned that if Zuckerberg ever steps foot in England, they would serve a summons on him and if he refused to accept that summons then they could start contempt proceedings against him, according to CBS News.
A similar reaction came from the Canadian government after the Facebook CEO left his chair empty again during the committee’s last meeting in Ottawa at the end of May.
“Should Mr. Zuckerberg or (Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl) Sandberg come to Canada for any reason, for a tech conference or to go fishing, they should be served a summons,” said Canadian MP Charlie Angus.
Facebook in the spotlight
Facebook is also in the sights of U.S. authorities who have opened two investigations, according to CNBC.
The most recent one was announced by New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Sept. 6 and will deal with possible antitrust violations.
On the other hand, the technology company is also being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for antitrust concerns, the company reported in late July, according to CNBC.
In addition, the company also faces other lawsuits related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, specifically one filed in Illinois for facial recognition data collection and another filed in California for a 2018 Data Violation of 30 million accounts.
At the same time, another internet giant, Google, is also under scrutiny by more than 30 state attorneys general for possible antitrust violations, according to CNBC.
What is an antitrust investigation?
Antitrust regulations exist to prevent companies from having too much centralized power over an industry. Legislators at the state and federal levels can take steps to promote competition by avoiding mergers, separating large companies, and penalizing companies for anti-competitive behavior, explains The Guardian.