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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg To Testify Before a US-Canada ‘Grand Committee”

Joining forces with Canada — and perhaps other countries — seems designed to prod Zuckerberg and persuade him to change his mind.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Parliamentary committees in Britain and Canada on Wednesday urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before a joint hearing of international lawmakers examining fake news and the internet.

Damian Collins, the head of the U.K. parliament’s media committee, is joining forces with his Canadian counterpart, Bob Zimmer, to pressure Zuckerberg to personally take part in hearings, as he did before the U.S Congress and the European Parliament. The so-called “international grand committee” session would be held Nov. 27 and could include lawmakers from other countries.

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A protester wearing a mask with the face of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is flanked by two fellow activists wearing angry face emoji masks, during a protest against Facebook policies, in London, Britain (From archives) VOA

“We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments. However, we believe that your users in other countries need a line of accountability to your organization — directly, via yourself,” the pair said in a letter to Zuckerberg. “We would have thought that this responsibility is something that you would want to take up.”

Social media companies have been under scrutiny in Britain following allegations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used data from tens of millions of Facebook accounts to profile voters and help U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. The committee is also investigating the impact of fake news distributed via social media sites globally.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at a Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California. VOA

Collins has been irate with Facebook for sending Zuckerberg’s underlings to his committee’s hearings while the leader of the Silicon Valley company declined invitations to attend. Joining forces with Canada — and perhaps other countries — seems designed to prod Zuckerberg and persuade him to change his mind.

Also Read: Twitter Still Remains A Hotbed For Account Spreading Fake News: Study

“No such joint hearing has ever been held,” the pair wrote. “Given your self-declared objective to ‘fix’ Facebook, and to prevent the platform’s malign use in world affairs and democratic process, we would like to give you the chance to appear at this hearing.” (VOA)

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Facebook Set to Launch a Petitions Feature For its Users

"There are some limits already: users can't tag President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence," said another report in The Verge

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook is set to launch a petitions feature called “Community Actions” that will let users request change from their local and national elected officials and government agencies.

According to a report in TechCrunch late Sunday, “Community Actions” will be a petition feature in Facebook’s News Feed and reach users in the US on Tuesday and other markets later.

“Users can add a title, description, and image to their ‘Community Action’, and tag relevant government agencies and officials who’ll be notified,” the report added.

Supporters for any given petition will be able to discuss the topic with fellow supporters, creating events and fundraisers.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

However, the “Community Actions” feature could also provide “vocal interest groups a bully pulpit from which to pressure politicians and bureaucrats with their fringe agendas”.

According to a Facebook spokesperson, “Community Action” is another way for people to advocate for changes in their communities and partner with elected officials and government agencies on solutions.

Also Read- Nepal’s Central Bank Announces Ban of Indian Notes Above Rs 100

Since bad actors can misuse such features, Facebook will use “a combination of user flagging, proactive algorithmic detection, and human enforcers,” to safeguard the “Community Action” feature from falling into wrong hands.

“There are some limits already: users can’t tag President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence,” said another report in The Verge. (IANS)