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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg won’t testify before 7 countries’ lawmakers

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AFP/Getty Images)

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is ‘‘unable’’ to testify at a rare joint hearing with lawmakers from seven countries - representing more than 368 million people - who remain frustrated about the social media giant’s handling of misinformation online.

Instead, Facebook will dispatch Richard Allan, the company’s vice president of policy solutions, to answer questions at a Tuesday hearing featuring top policymakers from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore and the United Kingdom, representatives from the U.K. said Friday.

Zuckerberg’s decision against testifying at the global gathering could add to Facebook’s woes with governments around the world, which have grown frustrated with the company’s business practices. It’s uncommon for seven countries to band together and seek to question a chief executive, reflecting the heightened threat of regulation and other punishments now facing Facebook and its peers in Silicon Valley.

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In Europe, lawmakers recently have taken aim at the way social media companies handle users’ personal data and combat hate speech and terrorism online. The European Union previously grilled Zuckerberg at a short, controversial hearing in May. In Brazil, meanwhile, Facebook has had to battle back misinformation on its site during its most recent election, while WhatsApp emerged as a major flash point for candidates who felt it had been deployed deliberately to spread falsehoods.

The push for Zuckerberg to testify began earlier this year with the U.K., where Damian Collins, the leader of a top, tech-focused parliamentary committee, has probed Facebook over mishaps, including the company’s entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that had improperly accessed personal data of about 87 million Facebook users.