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Facebook boss Zuckerberg snubs Canadian parliament; lawmakers issue a call



On a parliamentary hearing in Ottawa, two names sat on Tuesday – "Mark Zuckerberg" and "Sheryl Sandberg" – and two empty chairs.

For the second time in less than a year, Facebook's founder and its chief operating officer declined to come up with an international selection of lawmakers from nearly a dozen countries investigating privacy, large data and democracy.

It was not the Canadian committee hosts who blasted the couple for their inability and even issued an unusually open call: Zuckerberg and Sandberg will be required to come to Parliament if they wake up from Silicon Valley to Canada for any reason.

"If Mr Zuckerberg or Mrs Sandberg decides to come here for a technical conference or to fish, Parliament will be able to serve this call and have them brought here," said Charlie Angus, a member of the Left ̵

1; New Democratic Party.

If they actually turned out to be fishing and then could not be seen by the committee, Parliament could keep them despised, said Bob Zimmer, a conservative, relying on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

While the threat seemed to be most symbolic, Tuesday's hearing again showed that anger and frustration with Facebook are real – and no doubt growing.

In recent years, the company has been dogged by allegations that it dodges the responsibility for the dissemination of disinformation on the social network and fails to protect users' personal information – allegations repeated for the international committee on Tuesday.

The committee, officially named the International Large Data, Private and Democracy Committee, consists of representatives from Canada, Britain, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Ireland, Latvia and Singapore.

The group first met in london last year. Zuckerberg was invited, but did not show up.

Although other technology companies, including Google, were called to the Ottawa Collection, it was Facebook's decision to send relatively younger representatives the most incredible.

Zimmer called the absence of the top leaders "detestable".

"Shame on Mark Zuckerberg and shame on Sheryl Sandberg not to show up today," he said at the hearing according to CNN.

As the lawyer progressed, lawmakers laid Facebook's representatives on their handling of disinformation, and decided the company as a threat to democratic institutions.

Damian Collins, a British legislator, pushed Facebook on why it had not removed a digitally manipulated video by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Which became viral last week.

The company's director of public policy, Neil Potts, discouraged Facebook from doing anything – it ruled the video, making the content less likely to appear in users' news feeds.

In separate testimony, former Facebook consultant Roger McNamee urged governments to close such platforms until they are fully reviewed.

"At the end of the day, the most effective way to reform would be to stop the platforms at least temporarily," said McNamee, according to the Canadian broadcast company. "Any country can go first. The platforms have left you no choice. Time has come to call their bluff."

Although Canadian lawmakers did not announce any next step, their anger was evident.

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith of the Governing Liberal Party mocked Zuckerberg to vowing in a recent Washington Post call to keep talking to lawmakers.

"If he were an honest person who wrote these words," Erskine-Smith said, "he would sit in that chair."