Facebook “has something to hide” as it cancels its appearance in the South African parliament

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg during his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee oin … [+] 2019. (Photo by Aurora Samperio / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images

A few days before Facebook was supposed to answer questions about “harmful misinformation” in the South African parliament, the software giant has declined its commitment.

Opposition MP Phumzile Van Damme, who campaigned for the first time Facebook appeared before the legislature in Africa, has reportedly left the Democratic Alliance (DA).

“It is extremely unfortunate that Facebook withdrew its commitment to meet with the Committee on Communications and Digital Technologies at the eleventh hour after it agreed,” Van Damme told Stuff. [Disclosure: I am Stuff’s publisher.]

“It is clear that the company has something to hide and has no respect for the people of South Africa or the African continent,” said the distinguished MP.

However, Google has confirmed that it will attend the Communications and Digital Technologies Committee next Tuesday, May 25th.

“I look forward to a constructive discussion with the company about its efforts to manage misinformation on its social media platform, YouTube and other topics. The misinformation mounts during election season, and it is important that social media companies take steps to ensure that influence operations like we’ve seen at Bell Pottinger don’t manipulate public discourse in South Africa and keep our elections free and fair are. “

Last week, Van Damme praised Facebook’s approval of the meeting as “historic and a source of pride for South Africa to be the first in Africa and one of the few countries in the world to successfully secure a meeting with Facebook”.

Meanwhile, the South African information regulator is the youngest national data protection commissioner to consider litigation against WhatsApp over controversial new attempts to demand additional permissions that compromise user privacy.

“The regulator is joining countries like India, Brazil and Germany, where the data protection authority Facebook has banned the processing of personal data from WhatsApp, and is aiming for an EU-wide ban,” said Van Damme.

“Whether or not it appears before the committee, prosecutors will be assured that the way Facebook does business in South Africa is one that respects our laws and protects South Africa’s rights,” added she added.

Meanwhile, she said, “Google’s openness should serve as a model for other big tech companies in South Africa. Working hand in hand is far more desirable than in a contentious, bitter space that can lead to a destructive government reaction against these companies. “

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