back to article You've been Zucked: Facebook boss refuses to face-off with Brit MPs

Mark Zuckerberg has once again rejected the advances of the UK parliamentary committee that are probing the misuse of Facebook data and how the firm slurps user info. A letter (PDF) from the social network to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee made it clear that MPs' threat of a formal summons the next time Zuck …

Anonymous Coward

What happened to "Zuck Off"?

... And you weren't tempted by "Zuck Off" for the title?

Lester Haynes is probably revolving in this grave..

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Anonymous Coward

I don't blame him...

Zuck's already had to sit in front of a load of clueless politicians asking him inane questions, so why would he voluntarily do it again in a foreign country?

The parliamentary committee's primary purpose seems to be bandwagon jumping and self-promotion anyway, so what useful purpose is it going to serve?

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Re: I don't blame him...

Yes. I am no fan of Facebook but this is the same committee that decided Bradley Wiggins had not broken any rules but had "crossed an ethical line" based mostly on "secret" evidence from a source that they refused to name.

Damian Collins is a shameless self-publicist who wants M. Zuckerberg to attend the committee to bolster his own ego.

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Anonymous Coward

'Zuck's already had to sit in front of clueless politicians'

True, it was a poor showing from UK/US politicians. But a few picked up on the fact, that Zuk turned every question into a 'users-have-control' tripe, never explaining 'what Advertisers actually get access to'... Plus, outright lies about 'Shadow Profiles' and 'Offline-Tracking' of users / non-users etc.

Not that any of that will help the rest of us... Because judging by all the 'dumb fucks' still using Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram, cynical Sillycon Valley execs can just go on doing what they do best. Reg readers are in the 1% against now, yet pretty powerless to help any of the enslaved / addicts.

That said, and a drop in the ocean, but several Facebook hardliners in my family switched to Signal over the weekend. Just took 2 mins per person. Its not much, but its a start in this 2-lane highway against those selling us out. Old adage: You're either part of the solution or part of the problem...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'Zuck's already had to sit in front of clueless politicians'

That said, and a drop in the ocean, but several Facebook hardliners in my family switched to Signal over the weekend. Just took 2 mins per person.

I see two problems with your plan....

First, It requires installing yet another chat app and keeping all the others until everyone has switched over. Which when it comes to the kids (I say kids, they are post grad now) they love all the bells and whistles that come with the others, getting them to install an app that is just to talk to me on is just not going to happen.

second, It requires installing yet another chat app and keeping all the others until everyone has switched over. Which when it comes to the kids (I say kids, they are post grad now) they love all the bells and whistles that come with the others, getting them to install an app that is just to talk to me on is just not going to happen.

I know the first and second are identical issues, but as its such an enormous issue I felt it deserved mentioning twice.

I looked at Signal, it does appear to be a very good messaging system. Free from the crap that comes with all the others and to be honest, its something I would use. I have a brother who lives in Australia who is paranoid about who is watching and listening and Signal will be right up his tree. But I cant see it it catching on mainstream to a level where its viable for people to get rid of snapchat, whatsapp messenger and whoever else.

Personally I use sms for most of the people I talk to and if there is a need for a photo then a quick switch to messenger, Messenger because its the default that everyone appears to have. I don't use twitter since I got a ban for calling Piers Morgan a "Mutant bowl of fermented piss....". They wanted my phone number to re-activate my account, so they can fuck off, whatssapp takes over your phone, snapchat is just to annoying....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'Zuck's already had to sit in front of clueless politicians'

You recognise the technical cluelessness of the politicians and then you imply that Signal is a suitable replacement for Facebook functionality.

Seriously?!?

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Re: 'Zuck's already had to sit in front of clueless politicians'

It's a replacement for WhatsApp which is Facebook owned.

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Re: 'Zuck's already had to sit in front of clueless politicians'

Regrettably "Signal" requires a 'smartphone'; so users who only have a 2G phone and computers (desktop/laptop) can not access the 'desktop Signal service'.

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Re: 'Zuck's already had to sit in front of clueless politicians'

Upvote worthy for the Red Dwarf reference alone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Signal

Another thing Signal requires, on Android at least, is GApps installed - and a fairly recent version too so if you hoped you could get by with microG, you are out of luck. Which leads to an interesting dilemma - use Signal, or keep GApps of your Android phone?

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Anonymous Coward

"Signal requires, on Android at least, is GApps installed"

"Does the Signal Android client depend on Google Play Services or GCM?

No. As of February 2017, your device does not need to include support for the GCM push messaging framework through Google Play Services (or OpenGApps, or microG) in order for you to use the official Signal Android client. The app is designed to automatically fall back on a WebSocket connection if you register on an Android app compatible device that does not include support for GCM.

If you have registered on a device that includes support for GCM and later decide to disable or remove support for GCM from your device, the app will display a notification complaining about the lack of Google Play Services. At that point, you just need to re-register and the app should fall back on the WebSocket connection. To re-register, go to Signal Settings -> Advanced and toggle "Signal messages" off then on."

https://www.reddit.com/r/signal/wiki/faq#wiki_does_the_signal_android_client_depend_on_google_play_services_or_gcm.3F

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Anonymous Coward

'Regrettably "Signal" requires a 'smartphone'

"Signal Desktop can be used without a smartphone if you enable development mode. It will be a clean install with no contacts, so you'll have to manually enter your contact's phone number (including the '+' and country code) in the search bar to start a new conversation. The desktop client is still missing some features that are in the smartphone apps, like the ability to create new group chats. Voice and video calling are not supported on desktop yet, so other Signal users won't be able to call you if you don't have the smartphone app."

https://www.reddit.com/r/signal/comments/7gsqic/no_smart_phone/

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Anonymous Coward

'you imply that Signal is a suitable replacement for Facebook functionality.'

@ro55mo nailed it: "It's a replacement for WhatsApp which is Facebook owned.". Its true that Signal is just a messenger app like WhatsApp. But in many places having an alternative to WhatsApp is key, as WhatsApp is far more ubiquitous than Facebook or FB Messenger in places like Latam for example...

Overall though, as regards a full-replacement for Facebook, your point is taken. Sadly, we don't have any privacy conscious alternatives to Facebook. Most Americans wrongly believe that Instagram is that alternative, not realizing its just Zuk's #2 Social Network. Diaspora died off completely, and nothing else has ever really gotten traction. However, Signal is a good start... Try it!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'you imply that Signal is a suitable replacement for Facebook functionality.'

You're missing the point - Whatsapp isn't the problem.

Whatsapp isn't a scrapbook of your life; Facebook is.

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Anonymous Coward

'Whatsapp isn't a scrapbook of your life; Facebook is.'

Whatsapp is about to become that scrapbook...

Now that both Whatsapp founders have left, there's no one at Facebook to stop Zuk prying open WhatsApp messages (see Washington Post article). There's speculation about how this will happen, since the encryption is based on the same one that underpins Signal. Will Facebook just slip an update out one day that has a backdoor???

With proprietary code, there's no way to confirm how Whatsapp is even working right now. Whereas Signal is on Github, you can compile it yourself! However Facebook is ready to monetize WhatsApp and that means it is about to become a scrapbook of your life.

Also there's 40-50 points of metadata still being sent from WhatsApp to Facebook, as things stand. My SO is forced to use WhatsApp at work. We started to noticed a hidden .facebook_cache folder containing journal entries. That never happened before! Note, we've never used Facebook...

Not sure what you're beef here is, but mine is that WhatsApp and Facebook are fast becoming one and the same toxic slurp!

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"You can call me a dreamer..."

Imagine if FB was blocked by all UK ISPs for just 48 hours, can you imagine how much faster the internet would be without all those inane posts and crap pictures wizzing off the FB datacenters? Vile ad business would go out of businesses, as well as those dodgy sunglasses sellers too. World peace would break out without people spewing bile at each other from behind their keyboards.

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Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

I expect the bile would peak in the comments on YouTube or similar instead.

You are right though taking FarceBook off for 48 hours would be good for the net and might even wake a few people up.

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Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

I wish the world decided to block FarceBook, Instascam, Twatter & all the rest of their ilk. All their ads, graphics, posts, & links so that nobody anywhere could get there. That way those arseholes that profit from those sites would feel it the only way they give a fuck about, right in the wallet.

In the mean time the rest of us would have an internet devoid of their crap "content" clogging our bandwidth, which would speed up everything else we wanted to do on the internet.

Imagine it: no more FB, Instascam, Twatter, or their ilk! Aaaaaaahhhhhh... such a wonderful dream!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

"I wish the world decided to block FarceBook, Instascam, Twatter & all the rest of their ilk."

you can dream, but it will never happen. Most of the internet using world chooses to use these apps, why would they decide to block them?

The world, his wife, his cat and dog have all been telling them for the last few years how repulsive these companies are yet, they carry on using them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

All of those plus Google have been blocked at my home firewall for a long time.

Any of the family (especially the grandkids) who come visiting know that I won't be paying for their social media 'fix' while they are with me. They can use SM but not over my WiFi.

Both my children remark on how pleasant meal times are with no one on SM all the time.

Two of the Grandkids have 'come off' of FB and Twatter because of bullying.

Just say no to all (anti-)Social Media and get your life back.

And give Zuck the finger on your way out.

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Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

Imagine if the UK government grew a backbone and threatened Zuck with blocking FaceBook on this septic (sic) isle, all UK ISPs would be required to block access to FaceBook and its subsidiaries, unless Zuck turned up to face Parliament. Then, if he called our bluff, they went through with their threat. For more than 48hrs - permanently.

Sigh. Well, it’s a nice dream anyway.

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Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

That's not a dream, it's a nightmare. Arbitrary blocking with no oversight and not even the figleaf of lawfulness that the IWF uses. Insert your own Voltaire or Niemöller quote.

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Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

@Adam 52

If a company acts in a way which is detrimental to national sovereignty, as FaceBook (amongst others) has done in the US and the UK (and I'm sure elsewhere too), why is blocking that company a nightmare? Surely it's the very least that we should be doing?

And we're not talking about acting without oversight - this is something that should be thought out very carefully, and with due process, but there's enough evidence to suggest that this is something that needs to be considered very seriously. FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube et al, however much you might like them, are culpable and must be held responsible for their actions.

The web, as with so many utopian ideals, started out with the best intentions - but it's being hijacked by bad-actors and is turning into something of a dystopia. This is a problem that won't go away by ignoring it.

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Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

It's odd that the word "dreamer" should crop up in connection with the phrase "national sovereignty", considering that the national sovereignty of the United States is apparently threatened by the presence of so many "Dreamers" brought into the country without documentation, young people OUR national sovereignty apparently requires us to deport to nations speaking a language foreign to them.

Or that national sovereignty reaches into nations far away. Oh well; back to the days when government listened to every telephone call and read every telegram, eh? For the sake of privacy.

Humans are STRANGE.

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N2

Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

Why not just block Fb until he turns up?

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Re: "You can call me a dreamer..."

@Adam 52

"Insert your own Voltaire or Niemöller quote."

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to come for the people that disapprove of what you say, because I did not disapprove of what you said.

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So when are the politicians actually going to act?

I couldn't help but notice how little the UK does when their requests were basically totally disrespected. They set out a deadline at they expect to receive answers, Facebook blatantly ignores it and it's apparently business as usual for the UK. How do you expect to get people to respect your wishes if you allow them to walk all over you?

So far I can't help get the impression that those UK politicians are all talk and no action. And that is not going to help them here.

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Re: So when are the politicians actually going to act?

Select committees can only summons people who are within the UK. I don't think they can use the police or the courts to enforce it, but they could send a man in funny trousers (the sargeant at arms - and he might wear normal trousers these days - I didn't want to use my work PC to search for "sargeant's trousers").

As to the action they can take - if Facebook has broken the law then parliament should let the relevant authorities (police, ICO or civil action) deal with it; it's not parliament's job (or place) to prosecute. If Facebook hasn't broken the law but parliament is unhappy with stuff that they've done then parliament should change the law, but given the apathy with which most Facebook users seem to have approached this situation I don't see much incentive for parliament to do anything; the constituency of people who don't understand but care very much that they are able to post cat pictures is probably much bigger than those of us who understand and don't want to be shadow-profiled.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So when are the politicians actually going to act?

I had the impression that by showing contempt for parliament FB would be committing a crime. It's got to still be on the statute books somewhere, surely... stocks? Ninety lashes with the cat o'nine tails? (which would be strangely appropriate).

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Len
Meh

Re: So when are the politicians actually going to act?

To be honest, I have very little time for Zuckerberg or Facebook while I would welcome any move from the House of Commons to be less of a rubber stamp parliament and have more teeth.

Still, I feel that the right person to summon is the highest official of Facebook in the UK, not an American, living in the US, who runs an American company.

Why would he have to appear in front of some foreign parliament? There will be more than a hundred parliaments across the world, should he appear at each and every one of them if they so wish? Should the Cambodian parliament be able to summon some Brit who lives in the UK and runs a UK company if they so wish?

I think it should be at his discretion whether he wants to appear. It will be interesting to see what he does with a similar request from the European Parliament: https://www.politico.eu/article/tajani-floats-closed-door-hearing-with-facebooks-zuckerberg/

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Re: So when are the politicians actually going to act?

Perhaps the committee can have a loud, public conversation with the people who oversee taxes and just happen to ask whether anyone in government is investigating Facebook's tax status?

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Re: So when are the politicians actually going to act?

@ShelLuser

What should they (we?) do?

They have demanded a random american bloke travel here and sit and answer questions. He is absolutely entitled to say "no thanks!".

As much as we'd like answers, even when/if he does come, we won't get any, so I fail to see how it is that important.

How has his similar grilling in the US helped you/us/anyone?

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Re: So when are the politicians actually going to act?

@Headley_Grange, all it takes is *one* visit or transit by a certain Mr Mark Zuckerberg into/via London and he *will* be served and summonsed. Of course, if he prefers to remain persona non grata on UK soil just to avoid being hauled in front of said committee, he's welcome to...

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Holmes

Friady cat

I get the feeling Mark, can I call you Mark?, that being in front of another group of concerned individuals makes you hesitate to repeat the experience~?

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Mushroom

It's the politics, stupid

This particular fuss is not about Facebook as such - that is being dealt with in slow time via correspondence. It's about the rule of law and accountability to the People of the UK, through our elected representatives.

If the little Zucker doesn't like the heat, he should zuckin' well get out of the kitchen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's the politics, stupid

He is treating our jumped up politician tossers with the correct amount of disdain they deserve and showing they are truly toothless. They can stamp their little feet and scream all they want but they don't have the balls to do anything more.

Send a subpoena or STFU.

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Re: It's the politics, stupid

"Send a subpoena or STFU"

Under what authority would they be able to serve a subpoena in the US? That stamping of feet you heard - have you looked down at the end of your legs?

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Re: It's the politics, stupid

Exactly the same authority that the UK govt doesn't have to demand people just come to see them.

That's the issue. The govt are stamping their feet because, shock and horror, the Zuck has told em to "fuck reet off" and they don't like the "public openly refusing to kowtow to them.

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Block Facebook and all it's entities at the Brit & EU internet exchanges until all the questions are answered clearly, unequivocally and honestly.

I'll take a look in ten years or so to see if it's still blocked....

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I hate to mention this, but the EU doesn't give a stuff about a minor committee in the Parliament of a tin pot has been nation that is currently causing it much bigger problems.

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"We were disappointed after providing a very significant amount of information to the committee at the last hearing that the committee declared our response insufficient,"

Not half as disappointed as the committee were with the response.

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Oh dear...

... "Oh. We spent *ALL* this time talking to you and it still wasn't enough!"

Guess what Facebook, if you were to be honest about what you do, you wouldn't still be here being asked.

I'll just pop this lovely Youtube video of a Singaporean government committee giving Facebook a little something-something (especially given the petulant responses of the Facebook exec in said video) on here, and then drop the mic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h47QSqLp_e0.

Enjoy the roasting. This is what El Grand Zuck is trying to weasel out from. He wouldn't survive that...

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Anonymous Coward

WTF has Zuk got planned for Facebook...

It must be pretty scary to justify having to swallow this shit-storm of criticism right now... With Zuk's love of Big-Data, AI, Sucking-off Advertisers... Has he plans to build a Person-Of-Interest-like spying apparatus? A Super-AI that knows everything about everyone, all the time.

If so, what does Zuk plan to do with this Super-AI-Slurp-Machine long-term?

Its going to be harder to add another billion users with Facebook banned in China, unloved in India (rejection of 'free' FB internet ), and subject to heavyweight state surveillance in ME etc. So what next for Facebook? Dating will generate good psychological profiling, but what about after...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF has Zuk got planned for Facebook...

"Has he plans to build a Person-Of-Interest-like spying apparatus? A Super-AI that knows everything about everyone, all the time."

No that's Google's job and they've probably completed it already ahead of schedule for their paying customers.

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GDPR

Yes, GDPR is trendy, but seriously?

"The move has been slammed by critics because it effectively slips 1.5 billion users out of the rights offered under the General Data Protection Regulation"

Those 1.5 billion people aren't in the EU so why would our laws apply to them? If they want a GDPR they should write one. Heck, ours is on the Internet in full text in many, many languages they could just copy it if they want. I do realise that Facebook are doing this explicitely to abuse those 1.5 billion people, but that's no reason to insist on our laws applying. That's almost as bad as insisting the whole planet goes to democracy and capitalism - some cultures have different ideas and opinions and freedom means allowing them to make their own decisions.

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When are we Brits finally going to recognise that we're a dot on the map and no longer a world power? All this posturing and posing and outrage that a citizen of another country refuses to fly over here to repeat a performance that these MPs could watch on Youtube is ridiculous and further diminishes what little status we have remaining.

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Anonymous Coward

re. what little status we have remaining

that little status we had remaining went with BREXIT!

(although it's meant as a joke, it is, to quite a degree, true).

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To quote my not-so-young daughter:

"Facebook is great - it keeps the riff-raff off the rest of the Internet"

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@Aging Hippy

I'd agree with your daughter - except that the riff-raff on FaceBook have a nasty tendency to believe everything they read (apparently - certainly, my mother in law shows a lamentable degree of credulity). Then, having slurped up whatever the social media crap du jour is, they have the audacity to go out and vote, their opinions influenced by the shite they read online - rather than the news readily available on the television and in newspaper (which might also be shite, but for which there is a degree of oversight and for which retractions and corrections are required when bullshit is published)

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A job for GCHQ

Find a way to Track every FB ad that gets a click in the UK and tax it heavily, at $0.27/click even VAT would generate some useable revenue and if Zuck doesn't pay then the Gov' has some teeth.

The Social Media Revenue Act

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