Zuckerberg leak: It doesn’t make sense for me to go to hearings in every country

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Mark Zuckerberg does not see the need for him to attend hearings across the globe scrutinising Facebook’s practices, according to leaked audio from an internal meeting.

The tech giant’s founder is heard telling workers that other countries do not have the power to demand that he attend such hearings, in recordings obtained by The Verge dating back to July.

Mr Zuckerberg has turned down multiple opportunities to stand before MPs in the UK and elsewhere – seeking answers to data breaches, electoral interference and the spread of disinformation and hate speech on the platform.

“The reality on the hearings thing is, I’m not going to go to every single hearing around the world,” Mr Zuckerberg reportedly said.

“A lot of different people want to do that. When the issues came up last year around Cambridge Analytica, I did hearings in the US. I did hearings in the EU.

“It just doesn’t really make sense for me to go to hearings in every single country that wants to have me show up and, frankly, doesn’t have jurisdiction to demand that.

Facebook
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“But people are going to use the position of the company and me to criticise us.

“I think that that’s, to some degree, that’s like a normal thing that we just need to deal with and expect that that’s going to happen.”

In the wide-ranging talk, Mr Zuckerberg allegedly told staff that he thought some reports about the wellness of moderators who remove harmful content from the social network were “a little overdramatic”.

“From digging into them and understanding what’s going on, it’s not that most people are just looking at just terrible things all day long,” he reportedly said.

“But there are really bad things that people have to deal with, and making sure that people get the right counselling and space and ability to take breaks and get the mental health support that they need is a really important thing.”

In February, the social network vowed to improve support for staff tasked with removing content.

On the idea of breaking up big tech firms like Facebook, Mr Zuckerberg allegedly believes he could have a legal challenge on his hands if US senator Elizabeth Warren, a critic of the social network, were to become president.

“I don’t think that the antitrust remedies are going to solve them,” he reportedly continues.

“But I understand that if we don’t help address those issues and help put in place a regulatory framework where people feel like there’s real accountability, and the government can govern our sector, then yeah, people are just going to keep on getting angrier and angrier.”

Ms Warren took to Twitter, saying: “What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook $5 billion (£4 billion) for privacy violations and enforced strict new oversight rules in July.

A separate antitrust probe by the same agency was opened in June.

PA reached out to Facebook over the issue, but it declined to comment.

Chris Price
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