Congress Asks Mark Zuckerberg To Testify About Cambridge Analytica

Mark Zuckerberg

Following claims that Cambridge Analytica improperly collected personal data from Facebook users that was reportedly used to help elect U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. legislators are asking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify at a hearing, Reuters reported.

“The hearing will examine the harvesting and sale of personal information from more than 50 million Facebook users, potentially without their notice or consent and in violation of Facebook policy,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), along with other lawmakers, said in a letter.

While a Facebook spokesperson did not say if Zuckerberg would testify, the spokesperson did say the company had received the letter. But the CEO has said that he would testify if he is, in fact, the appropriate person to address legislators.

In addition to U.S. representatives, several Democratic U.S. senators also want Zuckerberg to testify. Congress’ House Energy and Commerce Committee, which Walden chairs, has not said when a potential hearing would take place. However, such a hearing would not occur for at least two weeks, when Congress comes back from a recess.

As far as Cambridge Analytica is concerned, the firm has made some pretty big claims — namely, that it can take raw personality data from a subset of voters and develop complex models of individuals, which campaigns can then use to target and micro-target voter communities to move elections their way.

The firm’s more specific (and biggest) claim, however, is that it conducted this advanced voter modeling for the Trump organization during the 2016 election — and that it was on the strength of those data models that Trump was able to turn swing states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, from blue to red.

Needless to say, whether Cambridge Analytica actually did this — whether their claims are simply marketing puffery and/or whether their tactics were as effective as they claim — controversy swirls around the issue. The biggest point of contention has been about how, exactly, the company got the data to create all those voter profiles in the first place.