Yves here. Zuckerberg’s woes are too much fun not to highlight.
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are already in hot water thanks to a New York Times expose that Facebook conceded was correct in the news dead time of last Friday. It included bombshells like this:
While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.
Facebook has also failed to deflect accusations that it helped “Russia” get Trump elected and gave Cambridge Analytica millions of user profiles. Marina Bart explained long form why Cambridge Analytica’s claims about its manipulative powers were bunkum. But we the great unwashed public should be delighted that its marketing hype is being treated seriously as grounds for making Facebook ‘splain itself.
By Jake Johnson, a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @johnsonjakep. Originally published at Common Dreams
After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to testify at a joint hearing with lawmakers from seven nations over his company’s invasive privacy practices, the U.K. Parliament on Saturday legally seized thousands of secret and “potentially explosive” Facebook documents in what was described as an extraordinary move to uncover information about the company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal.
According to the Guardian, the documents were initially obtained during a legal discovery process by the now-defunct U.S. software company Six4Three, which is currently suing Facebook.
Conservative MP Damian Collins, the Guardianreports, then “invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism” that compelled Six4Three’s founder—who was on a business trip in London—to hand over the documents, which reportedly “contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is claimed they include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg.”
“This week Facebook is going to learn the hard way that it is not above the law. In ignoring the inquiries of seven national parliaments, Mark Zuckerberg brought this escalation upon himself, as there was no other way to get this critical information,” wrote Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who was previously the director of research at Cambridge Analytica.
“The irony is… Mark Zuckerberg must be pretty pissed that his data was seized without him knowing,” Wylie added.
This is really bad for Facebook. https://t.co/hBSJRaedFm
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) November 25, 2018
The U.K. Parliament’s seizure of documents Facebook has long worked to keep hidden from the public view comes as the social media behemoth is embroiled in yet another scandal, this time over its use of a right-wing public relations firm to spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about its critics.
“Facebook will learn that all are subject to the rule of law,” Labour MP Ian Lucas wroteon Twitter. “Yes, even them.”
Addendum: The delicious part is that Parliament has the power to release the documents and is clearly inclined to, and Facebook is reduced to begging and trying to get a US judge to help…as if that will move the MPs. From the Financial Times:
Damian Collins, chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, told the Financial Times that “very important and very relevant” documents had been obtained from the founder of Six4Three, a US app developer, who was on a business trip in London last week.
Mr Collins issued an order to compel the businessman, Ted Kramer, to hand over the documents and the serjeant at arms — an officer responsible for security at Westminster — was sent to his hotel to ensure he complied. The app developer was in possession of internal Facebook documents, some from senior executives, regarding its data policies…
The showdown is an unusual deployment for the serjeant at arms, whose job includes a daily parliamentary procession carrying a silver-gilt mace….
“The process of getting information out of Facebook has been painful,” said Mr Collins…
The stand-off between parliament and Facebook comes one month after the social network appointed Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, as head of global affairs and communications.
It also comes as Six4Three compiles evidence against Facebook in preparation for litigation. The documents have been sealed by a judge in California so cannot be released and any attempt to do so would be deemed to be in contempt of court.
Mr Collins said, however, that his committee, which will meet on Tuesday, has the power to publish the documents under parliamentary privilege if it chooses to do so.
The Six4Three case has little to do with the subject of fake news but could shed light on Facebook’s policies at the time that the data of tens of millions of Facebook users was accessed and then used by Cambridge Analytica…
Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice-president of policy solutions, wrote to Mr Collins on Sunday. “The court that sealed the documents is due to consider these latest developments as early as tomorrow. It will be helpful for all of us to see Six4Three’s explanation and any directions given by the judge in this case as we consider their legal status,” he said in a letter seen by the Financial Times.