Facebook misses Brit MPs' deadline, promises answers on Monday

We've got 39 questions and Zuck has answered none

Man eats toast while looking at watch, clearly late for something. Photo by Shutterstock

Facebook has told MPs on the the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee that it will have to finish the homework it's been set over the weekend.

At the start of the month, the increasingly bolshy digital committee issued Facebook with a list of 39 questions (PDF) it said CTO Mike Schroepfer had failed to answer in his evidence to MPs.

The committee gave the social network until today to respond, but apparently 10 days wasn't long enough to pull together answers to questions it has been asked by innumerable news outlets and lawmakers since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke two months ago. Playing Hay Day can be pretty time consuming.

In an update issued yesterday, the committee said that Facebook had promised to respond to the questions – but that it needed until noon on Monday 14 May to do so.

The taxing questions include how many staff have been added to Facebook's app review team since 2014 (when rules for devs were changed to stop them getting access to users' friends' data), why app-firm GSR wasn't identified in audits, and when CEO Mark Zuckerberg first found out about Cambridge Analytica's data slurping.

Another couple of questions that Facebook's wordsmiths are sure to be poring over ask what work one of its employees does, and whether they've signed an NDA.

That staffer is Joseph Chancellor, who co-founded GSR – the company that slurped up the Facebook data – with Cambridge egghead Aleksandr Kogan, but unlike Kogan has not been described as a "scam and a fraud" by Zuck.

Facebook is also expected to reveal whether the man at the top will grace the UK's parliament with his presence. Although he's declined on multiple occasions, the MPs are hoping their promise to serve him with a formal summons the next time he steps foot on UK soil might change his mind.

Meanwhile, the power-mad MPs have issued summons to disgraced former Cambridge Analytica boss Alexander Nix and Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings.

Nix has given evidence to the committee as part of its fake news inquiry already, but that was before the extent of its access to Facebook data was revealed. The MPs now want to grill him on the "inconsistencies" between his testimony and the facts presented by other witnesses.

If Nix and Cummings don't agree to appear before the committee, chairman Damian Collins noted that the group could "take the matter further".

In reality this is more likely to be a formal warning than a fine or imprisonment, but in the past the threat has been enough to make even Rupert Murdoch turn up to give evidence when faced with a summons. ®

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