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Britain's Cameron and Facebook's Zuckerberg Talk Deficit Reduction

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, July 9 2010

Looking separated at birth, if perhaps by a few decades, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took part in a brief online video chat, on the subject of the UK government's new Treasury Spending Challenge, which asks for the British public's input on cutting government payouts. As Matthew Ingram points out, it looks as if Zuckerberg's bedroom is doubling for a Facebook studio.

The Prime Minister, all aglow, thanked the Facebook co-founder with great zest. "It wouldn't be possible without you, Mark," said Cameron. "Normally, if government wants to engage with people, we'd probably spend millions of pounds, even billions of pounds on our own website, and with your help we're basically getting this public engagement for free," Cameron said with a chuckle. Now those are some pretty expensive websites.

"For a lot of people," Zuckerberg confirmed, "it's just about having an easy and cheap way to for them to communicate their ideas."

Somewhat confusing matters: Facebook's involvement in the Treasury Spending Challenge seems limited to, at this point, linking from its Democracy UK page to, yes, a custom-made official British government website.

Cameron wraps the chat by extending an invitation to Zuckerberg, saying "next time you're in town, come and look us up." The leader of Facebook assured the leader of Britain that he would indeed do so.