Mark Zuckerberg humiliated by group of lawmakers, who accuse Facebook's CEO of spectacular leadership failure

By Isobel Asher Hamilton

A devastating report from a UK parliamentary committee has taken direct aim at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, accusing him of "contempt."

The UK's Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee on Monday released its report on disinformation and "fake news" following an 18-month inquiry, which took in evidence from 73 witnesses.

The report called for urgent regulation of Facebook — including an independent UK body to stamp out harmful or illegal content — and skewered Zuckerberg for refusing to give evidence to the committee three times.

"By choosing not to appear before the Committee and by choosing not to respond personally to any of our invitations, Mark Zuckerberg has shown contempt towards both our Committee and the 'International Grand Committee' involving members from nine legislators from around the world," the 110-page report said.

In November, the UK committee and the international committee empty-chaired Zuckerberg when he failed to show up to give evidence, sending a junior executive in his place.

Read more: The most explosive moments from Facebook's hearing, where furious lawmakers tore into 'frat-boy billionaire' Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg's empty chair at Westminster.
Gabriel Sainhas, House of Commons

The UK committee chair, Damian Collins, has been a vocal critic of Zuckerberg and in a January New York Times op-ed article called on him to appear before the committee. Collins did not let up in his criticism of the tech mogul following the report's publication.

'Profound failure of governance'

"Even if Mark Zuckerberg doesn't believe he is accountable to the UK Parliament, he is to the billions of Facebook users across the world," Collins said in a statement. "Evidence uncovered by my Committee shows he still has questions to answer yet he's continued to duck them, refusing to respond to our invitations directly or sending representatives who don't have the right information.

"Mark Zuckerberg continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world's biggest companies."

Furthermore, in specific reference to the Cambridge Analytica data breach last year, which the UK committee has interrogated closely, it accused Facebook of a "profound failure of governance." It said this was because the incident was not referred to Zuckerberg immediately and the firm "did not treat the breach with the seriousness it merited."

Facebook's response to the committee's report did not include any direct reference to the personal attack on Zuckerberg. It said Facebook had cooperated with the committee's inquiry.

"We share the Committee's concerns about false news and election integrity and are pleased to have made a significant contribution to their investigation over the past 18 months, answering more than 700 questions and with four of our most senior executives giving evidence," Facebook's head of UK public policy, Karim Palant, said in a statement.