GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS FROM around the world met in London on Tuesday to question Facebook vice president of policy solutions Richard Allen over “fake news” on its platform.
The committee that grilled Allen in the House of Commons consisted of politicians and top officials including Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton. The event was listed as the ‘Grand Committee on Disinformation’ and was organisedby Damian Collins, a British lawmaker who works in the area of investigating disinformation and the use of people's data.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked to be present the event, however he declined, refusing to even to attend via video link.
The heat in the investigation was recently turned up documents were seized that were “highly relevant” to the inquiry. The files reportedly provide evidence that Facebook has been trying to stay out of the public domain relating to the company's data and privacy policies that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The files were seized by the founder of a U.S software company called Six4Three. which have now been obtained by the British Parliament. The contents of the files are not yet known, however it is reported that they contain correspondence from Zuckerberg. Collins stated that the committee would release the files if they were deemed to be relevant to the ongoing inquiry.
Collins stated that the committee could not publish the documents, but noted a single incident: "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?"
It was not indicated what the "data points" are, and if they relate to identifiable personal information or technical data.
Mr Collins continued: "If you don't have the answer to it, I'd like Facebook to report back to the committee to say what internal process it ran when this was reported to the company by an engineer, and did they notify external agencies of this activity?
"Because if Russian IP addresses were pulling down a huge amount of data from the platform, was that reported or was that just kept, as so often seems to be the case, was that just kept in the family and not talked about?"
Mr Allan said that he would have to confer with Facebook before providing an answer to committee for this question.