NEWS16 May 2018

MPs criticise Facebook for lack of clarity

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UK – The parliamentary committee investigating the alleged misuse of Facebook user data by analytics consultancy Cambridge Analytica said Facebook has failed to provide “sufficient detail or data evidence” in response to questions put to the company.

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The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) wrote to the social network on 1 May requesting clarity on 39 questions after the committee heard evidence from chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer.

As part of its evidence submitted to the committee in a letter dated 14 May, Facebook included documents, published by DCMS, which show the social network’s efforts to ensure that data harvested via the ‘This is your digital life’ personality survey created by Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan had been deleted.

In response to a question over how many websites Facebook tracks users on, the company said there were over 10m social plugins, including Facebook Likes, Share buttons and Facebook Pixels, installed on websites over the course of one week ( 9-16 April).

The company said it does not have a record of apps that were terminated for developer violations before 2014, but said it took action against 370,000 apps in 2017 and has rejected over half of the apps applying for permissions beyond basic data fields since 2014.

However, DCMS chair Damian Collins MP said the company’s responses to the 39 outstanding questions lacked sufficient detail and data, and once again called for chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to appear before MPs.

"It is disappointing that a company with the resources of Facebook chooses not to provide a sufficient level of detail and transparency on various points including on Cambridge Analytica, dark ads, Facebook Connect, the amount spent by Russia on UK ads on the platform, data collection across the web, [and] budgets for investigations," said Collins.

He added: "If Mark Zuckerberg truly recognises the ‘seriousness’ of these issues as they say they do, we would expect that he would want to appear in front of the Committee and answer questions that are of concern not only to Parliament, but Facebook’s tens of millions of users in this country," and said the committee would be willing to take his evidence via video link if he cannot appear in person.

In the letter, Facebook said there were "no plans" for Zuckerberg to travel to the UK. 


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