International Grand Committee

Facebook came under fire from lawmakers from nine countries at the inaugural hearing of the “International Grand Committee on Disinformation” held in London.

The landmark event saw 24 representatives from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore, and the UK meet to debate issues including data protection, online disinformation and fake news.

The social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg was repeatedly asked to attend but refused and sent Richard Allan, the company’s vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Facebook is under investigation in various countries for reasons including Russian interference in the American elections, data privacy issues, unfair treatment of companies competing with Facebook, secret deals and more.

Referring to a report from a Facebook engineer that Russian IP addresses were accessing three billion data points a day on the network, committee chair Damien Collins, asked Allen: “If Russian IP addresses were pulling down a huge amount of data from the platform was that reported or was that just kept, as so often seems to be the case, within the family and not talked about?”

Allen said that the claim was misleading and taken out of context, but Facebook later issued a statement confirming the issue was looked into and told The Guardian “the engineers who had flagged these initial concerns subsequently looked into this further and found no evidence of specific Russian activity”.

The New York Times recently published an in-depth investigation which claimed senior Facebook executives had “ignored warning signs” about the negative impacts of its social network, and in some cases even sought to suppress or deflect criticism about its practices.

A representative from each of the seven parliaments participated in a formal signing ceremony for a set of ‘International Principles for the Law Governing the Internet’.

It seems there is much to do to bring Facebook’s behaviour into the open and force it to become an honest company.

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