Facebook Dodges Parliament’s Questions About Cambridge Analytica, Ads Inciting Violence In Myanmar

Facebook Dodges Parliament’s Questions About Cambridge Analytica, Ads Inciting Violence In Myanmar

Facebook has responded to a list of 39 questions provided by British lawmakers concerning user privacy, but in many cases, the company failed to adequately provide answers, a parliamentary committee said.

Asked, for example, who at Facebook ultimately made the decision not to inform users that their information had been illegitimately acquired by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, Facebook declined to say.

“It is disappointing,” the committee’s chair, Damian Collins, said, “that a company with the resources of Facebook chooses not to provide a sufficient level of detail and transparency on various points…”

Collins pointed to Facebook’s responses on questions related to Cambridge Analytica, so-called dark ads, and the amount of money spent by Russia on U.K. ads, as examples of areas where Facebook lacked specificity.

Facebook was asked how many fake accounts have been identified and removed in Myanmar, where local activists have accused Facebook, the country’s dominant media source, of ignoring extremist content, which human rights groups say is facilitating violence against Rohingya Muslims. Facebook responded that it could not answer the question.

After noting that it had been “too slow in Myanmar to deal with the hate and violence,” Facebook further refused to say how much revenue it had generated from ads in the country. “We do not publish country advertising revenue figures,” the company said.

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August to escape persecution and massacres at the hands of Myanmar’s security forces. In a letter last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised to Myanmar activists for having “mischaracterized Facebook’s response to violence-inciting messages in Myanmar,” according to the New York Times.

Although appearing before the U.S. Congress last month, Zuckerberg has refused to appear before Parliament. Last month, Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer appeared in his stead.

Facebook said it would “continue to cooperate fully with the relevant regulators”; however, it is the regulators themselves who say Facebook is not giving the U.K. its full cooperation.

“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,” Collins said.