Zuckerberg vs Collins

Written by Mark Evans

Damian Collins is an unhappy man. As the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee he has found himself presiding over the unpicking of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica story. Despite the fact that a lot of the claims seem, well, almost obvious, one thing Collins thought he might get was Facebook CEO Zuckerberg to turn up and testify. But he won’t, and that makes Collins upset, and leads one to ask why not?

Collins has urged Mr Zuckerberg to attend, saying that he still believes that he is the “right person” to answer the questions, perhaps reflecting on Zuckerberg’s promise to “fix” Facebook.

Facebook's chief product officer Chris Cox will be giving evidence on Facebook’s behalf, but as Facebook’s share crashed it seems a strange strategy to not be seen defending your company. Investors and users are unlikely to see this as a ringing endorsement.

The select committee has heard from whistleblower and former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie, who claimed information was used to sway the Brexit vote and US election using data obtained from 50 million users on Facebook through a personality quiz in 2014.

Due to the connectivity of Facebook, even though 270,000 people took the quiz, the profiles of 50 million users were harvested without their explicit consent – something of a grey area legally, but morally across the line.

Zuckerberg has taken out full-page advertisements in several UK and US Sunday newspapers to apologise, but even Howard Hughes took the stand when asked.