Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, facing repeated calls to testify before Congress over the Cambridge Analytica user data scandal, has decided to oblige, gearing up to appear before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11.
In a statement House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said Zuckerberg will testify before the committee at 10:00 a.m. ET pertaining to the company's use of customers' data. “This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online. We appreciate Mr. Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify before the committee, and we look forward to him answering our questions on April 11th,” said Walden and Pallone in the press release.
CNN, citing Facebook sources, had previously reported Facebook is planning a strategy for the CEO’s testimony. Sources told CNN that Zuckerberg’s decision to appear before the committee should pressure Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey to do the same. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has invited the three CEOs to appear before a hearing on data privacy that is slated for April 10. All three companies have faced scathing criticism for not doing enough to prevent fake news and offensive content from spreading on their platforms. While Zuckerberg agreed to testify before Congress, the executive declined to appear before the British Parliament. Instead, Fortune reported Facebook will send other executives who can speak on the data scandal.
Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have been under fire for more than a week now after it was revealed the political consulting firm used data from 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent, prompting widespread outrage and a slew of investigations into both companies. Facebook’s stock has tanked as a result, erasing billions of dollars of market valuation. Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission was the latest to launch an inquiry into the incident.
“The FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook,” Tom Pahl, acting director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices ... [and] is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers.”