Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has bowed to mounting pressure and announced he will appear, at an undisclosed date, in front of Congress to offer testimony on how his company is working to ensure data privacy.
The social media giant's announcement comes in the midst of increased scrutiny by lawmakers and federal regulators after it was alleged that a data firm employed by President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign, Cambridge Analytica, obtained data on more than 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge. It is unclear which Congressional committee Zuckerberg will appear in front of, as no fewer than three have extended invitations, CNN reported.
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Last Wednesday, when news of the potential breach first broke, Sens. John Kennedy (R., La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) were the first to call on the Facebook CEO to appear before Congress. The duo's sentiment was echoed by colleagues from across the political spectrum. The pressure for Zuckerberg to testify culminated on Monday when Senate Judiciary Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) extended a formal invitation for Zuckerberg to appear in front of his committee. The invitation, extended to the CEOs of Twitter and Google as well, requests Zuckerberg's attendance at a hearing, slated for April 10, to discuss the "future of data privacy in social media," according to Facebook sources who spoke to CNN.
Zuckerberg is expected to face grilling about Facebook's commitment to privacy and data protection. Many have directed criticism at Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and the Trump campaign for potentially using data without users' permission, and other's have been quick to point out that the collection and dissemination of such data isn't new, even in the case of political campaigns. A former 2012 Barack Obama campaign official said Facebook allowed the campaign to uniquely use the platform to collect data because the company was on the campaign's side. The campaign's Chief Technology Officer similarly discussed the vast amount of data the campaign was able to utilize.
On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission confirmed it had opened an investigation into Facebook for possible privacy violations.