Almost a year ago, UK members of parliament asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in person about how Facebook handles data privacy and online misinformation. And like Neo dodging bullets in The Matrix, Zuckerberg has repeatedly wriggled his way out of it, opting to send lackeys in his place. But it seems like he finally has some free time in his schedule, as UK culture secretary Jeremy Wright is set to meet with Zuckerberg at Facebook’s headquarters today.
But before you rub your hands with glee, Wright isn’t going there for a lengthy one-on-one grill session with Zuckerberg over the social media giant’s multiple privacy violations. Wright, who heads the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee, is actually on a tour of Silicon Valley to discuss the British government’s upcoming Internet Safety White Paper with Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter. And, according to the BBC, Wright will only be given a 30-minute window in Zuckerberg’s busy schedule of bungling attempts to fix Facebook’s public image.
The meeting also comes just a few days after Wright’s committee released a 108-page report concluding its 18-month investigation into disinformation on social media. In it, the committee sharply rebuked Facebook as behaving like “digital gangsters” incapable of policing themselves. In particular, Zuckerberg’s ongoing refusal to personally testify before the committee was singled out as an example of his failed leadership.
“I remain a firm believer that technology has the power to do good and positively impact our society,” Wright said in a statement on Monday. “But it is clear that things need to change. With power comes responsibility and the time has come for the tech companies to be properly accountable.”
In a statement to Yahoo Finance UK published today, Wright said, “The era of self regulation is coming to an end but I still want to see innovative solutions on online harms being put forward by the industry. I look forward to meeting Mr. Zuckerberg to discuss what more Facebook can do to help keep people safe on their platforms, as we prepare a new regulatory framework that will reinforce Facebook’s and other tech firms’ responsibility to keep us safe.”
That’s a hefty agenda for a mere 30 minutes. But hey, at least Zuckerberg will get some practice in for his 2019 challenge of talking more to people.