WASHINGTON, March 23, 2018 – The odds that Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg will make an appearance on Capitol Hill to explain his company’s actions regarding the misuse of millions of Facecook users’ data by Cambridge Analytica – the “big data” company linked to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign – just went up.
After a week of revelations about how Cambridge targeted Facebook users with political messages without their consent, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Ranking Member Bill Nelson, D-Florida, are now calling on the occasionally-reclusive CEO to appear before their committee.
“During our time leading the Commerce Committee, several questions about Facebook’s responsibilities and obligations to users have arisen even as the company’s reach and importance have grown,” Thune and Nelson said in a joint statement. “As a result, we have decided to ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before our committee. On a bipartisan basis, we believe Mr. Zuckerberg’s testimony is necessary to gain a better understanding of how the company plans to restore lost trust, safeguard users’ data, and end a troubling series of belated responses to serious problems.”
The request from Thune and Nelson comes the day after House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, also called on Zuckerberg to testify.
“As the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook and the employee who has been the leader of Facebook through all the key strategic decisions since its’ launch, you are the right person to testify to Congress about these decisions and the Facebook business model,” they wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg.
Facebook representatives briefed committee staff on the recent controversy on Thursday as well. In addition, senators are also expecting the company to submit written responses to a series of questions posed by Sens. Thune, Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, about Facebook’s work with Cambridge and its U.K.-based parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories.
While Zuckerberg has declined to testify or meet with congressional leaders in the past – sending lawyers and other executives in his stead -- he has met privately with the leaders of other countries in which Facebook wishes to do business, including Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
(Photo of Mark Zuckerberg in September 2012 by J.D. Lasica used with permission.)