Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has refused calls from British politicians to appear before a parliamentary enquiry and explain his firm's role in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
Zuckerberg has instead offered up two senior executives, CTO Mike Schroepfer and chief product officer Chris Cox instead.
The executives will have to explain how Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to scrape huge amounts of Facebook data without the company's or users' knowledge.
The head of the parliamentary committee said he still wants to hear from Zuckerberg directly.
Mark Zuckerberg has refused to appear directly before British politicians to explain Facebook's role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal — and is offering to put senior executives in the firing line instead.
Rebecca Simon, Facebook's head of public policy in the UK, responded to calls from Conservative politician Damian Collins that Zuckerberg appear before a select committee enquiry into fake news.
She wrote to Collins: "Facebook fully recognises the level of public and Parliamentary interest in these issues and support your belief that these issues must be addressed at the most senior levels of the company by those in an authoritative position to answer your questions. As such, Mr. Zuckerberg has personally asked one of his deputies to make themselves available to give evidence in person to the Committee."
The "deputies" offered up to MPs are two long-serving Facebook executives: Chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer and chief product officer Chris Cox.
You can read the letter in full via this tweet from Bloomberg reporter Joe Mayes:
Mark Zuckerberg declines request to appear before U.K. parliamentary committee and @DamianCollins. Recommends his Chief Technology Officer and Chief Product Officer instead. Full letter here: pic.twitter.com/Q6EueSHu8a
Collins responded to Facebook's letter in a statement on Tuesday. He said that "we would still like to hear from Mr Zuckerberg as well," but said that the committee was "very happy to invite Mr Cox to give evidence."
Both Facebook executives, wrote Simon, report directly to Zuckerberg. Schroepfer has previously commented on the role of fake news and Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Cox has not commented on the scandal so prominently, but he's an interesting choice and, along with COO Sheryl Sandberg, is considered one of the most important executives at Facebook.
Collins called for Mark Zuckerberg to give evidence before the DDCMS select committee earlier this month, when The Observer reported that political research firm Cambridge Analytica illegitimately scraped millions of Facebook user profiles via a third-party app. That data may then have been used for "psychographic" profile and to target US voters more precisely with political ads, though this is not clear.
It isn't clear whether any of this Facebook data was used to target voters during the UK's Brexit vote in 2016, though this is partly what Collins will try to establish during the enquiry.