Facebook has released a statement concerning its apparent unwillingness to meet with the Communications and Digital Technologies Committee over misinformation on its platform.
This prompted a scathing statement from Phumzile Van Damme — who at the time was a member of the committee and an MP – who said, “it is clear that the company has something to hide and holds no respect for the people of South Africa, or those on the Africa continent.”
The social media giant has released a statement in which it denies snubbing parliament; instead, it said, it had asked for a postponement of the meeting until it meets certain conditions.
“We believe as a Tech Industry, it is important that we collectively come together to outline how we support elections and ensure election integrity in light of the local Government Elections taking place later this year,” said Kojo Boakye, Facebook Public Policy Director Africa.
“The Roundtable with the Parliamentary Committee was meant to do just that. Earlier this week, representatives of the Committee informed us that, at that time, Facebook was the only company that had confirmed its participation in next week’s Roundtable. Without more industry players and other key stakeholders present, we believed the Roundtable would not meet the objectives that were outlined to us, hence we requested that the Roundtable be postponed to a later date.”
Boakye went on to say that Facebook has teams and technology in place to protect the integrity of elections in South Africa, across Africa and around the world.
“We devote extensive resources to reducing the spread of misinformation and fighting election interference on our platforms,” he said. “Our commitment to participating in a Roundtable is well documented, we remain committed to engaging with national governments and have clearly indicated to the committee that we welcome ongoing dialogue, and a meeting at a later date.”