Facebook A "Morality-Free Zone", Threatens Academics: British Lawmaker

Conservative MP Julian Knight was grilling Facebook's Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer on Thursday over the Cambridge Analytica (CA) breach.

Facebook A 'Morality-Free Zone', Threatens Academics: British Lawmaker

Facebook has been mired in data misuse controversy. (File)

London: Facebook is a "morality-free zone" that bullies journalists and threatens academics, said a British lawmaker, while probing a data breach controversy, the media reported.

Conservative MP Julian Knight was grilling Facebook's Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer on Thursday over the Cambridge Analytica (CA) breach, when he said this. 

Mr Schroepfer was facing the British government inquiry over CA's data-mining scandal and the impact of fake news on the Brexit referendum. 

Facebook's reaction to the data scandal suggested a "pattern of behaviour" that included "bullying...threatening... and potentially impeding probe by lawful authorities", the Guardian quoted Mr Knight as saying.

Mr Knight said the social network had tried to evade responsibility for the impact it was having on society. 

"...Facebook is a morality-free zone destructive to fundamental right of privacy," Mr Knight was quoted as saying.

"You (Facebook) aren't an innocent party wronged by the likes of Cambridge Analytica. You are the problem. Your company is the problem."

Appearing before the US Congress earlier in April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the lawmakers that his own personal data was part of the 87 million users' that was "improperly shared" with the British political consultancy firm.

Mr Schroepfer replying to Knight on Thursday said that he would "respectfully disagree" with the latter's assessment. "You want us to say we're responsible, which we have on multiple occasions," Mr Schroepfer added.

The Chief Technology Officer also apologised for the way Facebook had handled inquiries from journalists working on the story. "I am sorry that journalists feel we are attempting to prevent the truth coming out."

British MPs on the House of Commons' digital, culture, media and sport select committee have repeatedly requested an audience with Zuckerberg, as part of their inquiry into fake news. However, it did not happen.

In a written testimony, Mr Zuckerberg told US lawmakers that he was "responsible for" not preventing the social media platform from being used for harm -- fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech.

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it and I'm responsible for what happens here," he said. 

His apology came after Facebook was embroiled in a widening scandal that the British data firm CA had improperly gathered detailed Facebook information on 87 million users, up from a previous estimate of more than 50 million.

The Indian government has also sought clarifications from Cambridge Analytica, but the response it received was "unsatisfactory, cryptic and evasive". It has now set a deadline of May 10.
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