Facebook VP Richard Allan faces grilling, but Mark Zuckerberg refused to attend


"We've never seen anything quite like Facebook, where while we were playing on our phones and apps, our democratic institutions. seem to have been upended by frat boy billionaires from California", he said.

Allan was hit with a barrage of questions from disgruntled committee members who came from Canada, Ireland, Brazil, France, Singapore and even Latvia - in all twenty-four representatives from nine countries.

The committee laid out a place card marked "Mark Zuckerberg", which remained unoccupied during the hearing.

The documents were not released at the hearing, but the member, Damion Collins, referenced them during questioning. Facebook accepts that a regulatory framework is needed, Allan said.

The Canadian lawmaker has also questioned the motives behind the absence of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the hearing.

Collins said: "If you don't have the answer to it, I'd like Facebook to report back to the committee to say what internal process it ran when this was reported to the company by an engineer, and did they notify external agencies of this activity?"

The hearings are the latest hurdle for Facebook as it tries to move past the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the social media giant share a treasure trove of personal information with a data analytics firm tied to both the Brexit and the Donald Trump political campaigns.

Canadian Parliament member Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said it is "unfortunate" Zuckerberg was not there, adding that it "speaks to a failure to account for the loss of trust certainly across the globe with respect to Facebook".

The app maker, Six4Three, had acquired the files as part of a U.S. lawsuit against the social media giant.

A protester wearing a model head of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg poses for media on November 27 in London. That was about a year after the same back-door channel allowed a Soviet-born American researcher, linked to Cambridge Analytica, to gather basic profile information on millions of Facebook users.

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Addressing Allan on Tuesday, Collins said the committee was unable to publish information contained in the documents but noted a single incident.

In a damning session, Facebook was criticised by the so-called "international grand committee" of politicians for recent data breaches, the risk of electoral interference and the rampant spread of disinformation and hate speech on the platform.

Allan said there have been a "number of actions taken" against developers but added, "I don't have in front of me today all of the answers to all of the questions".

"We are not asking you to be ideal", Angus said.

Angus said the problem lies in the fact that people who want to use a social media platform other than Facebook often only have the option of another Facebook-owned service like WhatsApp or Instagram.

At the hearing, lawmakers from the countries present signed a declaration on the "Principles of the Law Governing the Law Governing the Internet".

"Perhaps the best regulation is antitrust", Angus said.

Collins quoted from one of the emails, which are part of a United States lawsuit, alleging that a Facebook engineer had notified the company in October 2014 that Russian IP addresses were accessing "three billion data points a day" on the network.

Facebook has endured a year of negative headlines about fake news, election meddling and privacy concerns.