After the CEOs repeated denials to give evidence, lawmakers decided to quiz Facebook's European Policy Chief Richard Allan. But in a symbolic gesture, it left an empty chair with the name tag ‘Mark Zuckerberg'.
For his part, Allan apologized for Zuckerberg's absence and did not sit in the CEOs seat. However, questions about the company's conduct remain largely unanswered. In particular, the committee asked about documents seized by the UK last week.
“An engineer at Facebook notified the company in 2014 that entities with Russian IP addresses had been using a Pinterest API key to pull over three billion data points a day through the Ordered Friends API. Now, was that reported to any external body at the time?” asked chairman Damian Collins.
24 official representatives.
447 million people represented.
One question: where is Mark Zuckerberg? pic.twitter.com/BK3KrKvQf3
— Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (@CommonsDCMS) November 27, 2018
Facebook Remains Evasive
Allan simply replied that the emails were not representative of Facebook's official policy. Rather, they were partial and didn't show the whole story. However, he failed to elaborate on the statement or whether Facebook has reported the incident.
Allan was also unable to name an occasion that Facebook has banned an app for breaking its rules, though its policy says so. UK Commissioner Elizabeth Denham informed the committee 200 apps were banned after Cambridge Analytica, but there's no evidence of any cases before then.
In all, Facebook still has a lot to answer for. The public is yet to see the documents that were seized from an executive of US tech firm Six4Three on Sunday. However, The Observer reports that they contain information about the company's privacy controls, among other things.
The bottom line is that Facebook still has a lot to answer for, and it's refusal to be transparent raises alarm bells. The representatives from Canada, Brazil, Ireland, and Singapore will be going home with few answers for their citizens.