Zuckerberg to skip international hearing

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has declined to testify at a rare joint hearing with lawmakers from seven countries, representing more than 368 million people, according to a letter which was sent by the company to those officials and was obtained by The Washington Post.

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. Many of those officials remain concerned about the social media giant’s handling of misinformation online.

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 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 the country’s most recent election, while WhatsApp emerged as a major flash point for candidates who felt it had been deployed to spread falsehoods.

— Tony Romm

Stocks slide following U.S. oil price drop

U.S. stocks closed lower Friday, bumping the benchmark S&P 500 index into a correction, a drop of 10 percent or more from its recent all-time high in September.

Energy companies led the market slide as the price of U.S. crude oil tumbled to its lowest level in more than a year, reflecting worries among traders that a slowing global economy could hurt demand for oil.

“Oil is really falling sharply, continuing its downward descent, and that appears to be giving investors a lot of concern that there’s slowing global growth,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management. “You have that, and then you have the recent sell-off in tech and in retail, and then throw on there trade tensions and rising rates.”

Losses in technology and Internet companies and banks outweighed gains in health care and household goods stocks. Several big retailers declined as investors monitored Black Friday for signs of a strong holiday shopping season.

Trading volume was lighter than usual with the markets open for only a half day after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The S&P 500 index fell 17.37 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,632.56. The index is now down 10.2 percent from its last all-time high set Sept. 20. The last time the index entered a correction was in February.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 178.74 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,285.95. The Nasdaq composite dropped 33.27 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,938.98.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

The U.S. highway safety regulator is investigating an alleged defect in 2.7 million pickups and sport utility vehicles built by General Motors that are getting into collisions because drivers are having trouble braking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation on Tuesday of trucks and SUVs, including GM's best-selling Chevrolet Silverado, after receiving 111 complaints from consumers. The power brake vacuum pump in the models can degrade and make it difficult to stop, according to the agency.

United Technologies will turn its attention to the question of whittling back its businesses after China cleared the way for the world's largest aerospace supplier to merge with Rockwell Collins. With the $23 billion deal expected to close within three business days, whether to follow the merger with a split up is the next big decision facing chief executive Greg Hayes, who said in October that he'll be weighing a possible restructuring.

— From news services