Private meeting for politicians with Zuckerberg not good enough

Seán Sherlock TD
02 April 2019

Labour spokesperson on Communications Seán Sherlock TD has questioned why three TDs agreed to a private meeting today with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg rather than hold a public appearance at a parliamentary committee.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“The CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has refused previous invitations to go before the international grand committee when it met in Westminster last year saying he was unable to attend. However, he is now engaged in a charm offensive of op-eds and private meetings.

“I am surprised that three TDs from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment have agreed to a private meeting today with Mr Zuckerberg in the Merrion Hotel. This would appear to be in their capacity as Irish members of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News but it benefits Facebook by providing the veneer of accountability without any substance.

“We are told the private meeting today was to discuss fake news and online safety but we obviously have no public oversight of that meeting. It’s not clear to me why this meeting is being held privately when members of the public have serious questions about Facebook and Mr Zuckerberg has refused to attend committees to answer questions in public.

“If the CEO was to appear before an Oireachtas Committee, particularly as Ireland is the EU headquarters for Facebook, the questions he would be asked and his answers would be on the public record. Instead we have what appears to be more private lobbying.

“Transparency is essential when it comes to tackling fake news and online safety. If Mr Zuckerberg is on a charm offensive, he could have done us the courtesy of meeting with the relevant Oireachtas Committee. Instead todays secret meeting will reinforce the lack of openness and failure of Facebook to tackle the many problems it faces.”

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