Amid charges of undermining Democratic institutions and a steep drop his company’s net worth, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was scolded Tuesday by lawmakers from nine countries for choosing to “blow off” an international committee hearing in London addressing fake news and disinformation.
In his place, Facebook policy chief Richard Allan was confronted with accusations such as disseminating politically motivated false information in a presidential election campaign in Brazil, Business Insider reported.
Canadian MP Charlie Angus blasted Zuckerberg for his decision to “blow off” the hearing and charged that his company is harming democracy.
“While we were playing on our phones and apps our democratic institutions, our formal civil conversations, seem to have been upended by frat-boy billionaires from California,” he said.
On Wednesday CNBC reported an early investor and former board member, Jim Breyer, said Zuckerberg should remain chairman and CEO, but he insisted “radical change” is needed on how decisions are made.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month Zuckerberg gathered about 50 of his top lieutenants in June and told them the company was under siege and needed to operate in a war mode.
According to sources familiar with the remarks, Zuckerberg said that during times of peace, executives can move more slowly and ensure that everybody is on board with key decisions.
But lawmakers, investors and angry users are on the offensive, he said, requiring that he act more decisively.
After losing more than 40 percent of its market value in just four months, Facebook shareholders are questioning the company’s business model, which relies on a growing number of users to share more information and for advertisers to continue to pay up to reach them, CNBC reported Monday.
Meanwhile, Facebook, which is declining in popularity among young people, continues to face accusations of ideological and political censorship. Earlier this month, dozens of human-rights organizations wrote to Zuckerberg demanding he explain the rationale for censoring certain users and provide a fair appeal process.
‘Buck stops with Zuck’
The International Grand Committee in London on Tuesday was set up by Canadian lawmaker Bob Zimmer and British politician Damian Collins.
“To not have your CEO sit in that chair is an offense to all of us,” said Zimmer, according to Business Insider.
Collins said at a press conference “the buck stops with Zuck.”
Zimmer added: “It’s a high-school company collecting adult paychecks.”
“To me they don’t get it,” he said. “I still don’t think they get it.”
The committee of representatives from the U.K., Canada, France, Argentina, Singapore, Ireland, Belgium, Brazil and Latvia had no power to summon witnesses and cannot penalize businesses, Time magazine noted.