The company said it would instead send one of his deputies to London, suggesting chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer or chief product officer Chris Cox had the expertise to answer questions on the complex subject. The head of the committee called Mr Zuckerberg’s decision “astonishing” and urged the social media mogul to think again.
However, Mr Zuckerberg is planning to give evidence before the United States Congress, a source briefed on the matter said.
Facebook said the company had received invitations to testify before Congress and that they were talking to legislators. House Energy and Commerce Committee spokeswoman Elena Hernandez said: “The committee is continuing to work with Facebook to determine a day for Mr Zuckerberg to testify.”
Politicians in the US and Europe are demanding Mr Zuckerberg explain how 50 million users’ data ended up in the hands of a political consultancy. It comes after whistleblower Christopher Wylie revealed Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to target US and British voters in close-run elections.
Giving evidence to the same British parliamentary committee snubbed by Mr Zuckerberg, Mr Wylie said Canadian company AggregateIQ (AIQ) developed a program called Ripon to target Republican voters in the 2016 US election.
“There’s now tangible proof in the public domain that AIQ actually built Ripon, which is the software that utilised the algorithms from the Facebook data,” Mr Wylie told the British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
Ripon, the Wisconsin town where the Republican Party was founded in 1854, was the name given to a tool that let a campaign manage its voter database, target specific voters, conduct canvassing, manage fundraising and carry out surveys.
AggregateIQ did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the remarks.
The company previously told Reuters it had never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica nor ever entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica.