Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t travel to Canada often, but the next time he does, he could be facing some pretty serious legal action. Facebook’s CEO, and its COO Sheryl Sandberg (Miss “Lean In” herself), have refused to comply with a subpoena calling them to testify in a hearing before Canadian parliament Tuesday. After their refusal, parliament voted to issue an official summons which means the next time either of the tech execs step foot in Canada, they’ll be compelled to appear in front of the parliamentary committee.
Zuckerberg and Sandberg were called to testify earlier this month and didn’t respond until Monday when the news was broken by CNN. The committee meeting, hosted by Canada, invited lawmakers from around the world to the House of Commons to press tech executives on issues related to hate speech and misinformation online. The Facebook CEO and COO sent two senior executives in their place.
“It’s abhorrent that [Zuckerberg is] not here today and Ms. Sandberg is not here today,” said Conservative MP Bob Zimmer, who is also chairman of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. “As soon as they step foot … into our country, they will be served and expected to appear before our committee.”
Zimmer had threatened to hold the duo in contempt of parliament but it seems parliament is going with the outstanding summons instead.
Facebook’s Zuckerberg ignores subpoena from Canadian parliament, risks being held in contempt-CNN “Nobody is going to come with some handcuffs and arrest them, but to be held in contempt by an entire country would not serve any platform well,” he added.” https://t.co/ZRQk1aqgmC
— Bob Zimmer MP (@bobzimmermp) May 28, 2019
Zuckerberg’s outright refusal to appear before the committee is interesting considering his recent commitment to work with global governments to make the internet safer and more secure.
“In March, Mark Zuckerberg wrote that he looked forward to discussions with lawmakers around the world to address harmful content, protect our elections and privacy and increase competition,” MP and vice-chair of the committee Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said. “This is his opportunity to show the world he is serious and honest in that commitment.”
It’s not that Zuck isn’t making good on his word everywhere. Earlier this month, he made a trip to France to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron. Then again, it’s possible that meeting turned him off cooperating with foreign governments since Macron threatened to legislate Facebook’s freedoms in the country and possibly in the entirety of Europe. The French government had just completed an investigation into Facebook’s impact on the EU and found that the company wasn’t doing enough to curb extremism, hate speech and misinformation on its platform.
While the Facebook higher-ups avoid Canada altogether, there is a little bit of good news: apparently the social media company is going to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to the upcoming Canadian federal election. In an interview with the CBC, head of public policy for Facebook Canada Kevin Chan said they’re committed to reporting any signs of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” that could interfere with the Canadian democratic process.
“For that kind of behaviour, where we find it on our own, through our investigative work, or we are made aware of it through our partners, we will remove these things from the platform and we will publicly share that,” he said.
“Facebook cares deeply about ensuring that there is a free and fair election in Canada,” he added.
It’s been proven that Facebook was the key to Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election. Russian internet trolls used the platform to spread misinformation, sow division and further polarize an already hostile electorate. Experts are concerned that the same could happen in Canada and in other democracies around the world.