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Senate, FTC Grill Facebook For More Info On Data Scandal

The fallout continues for Facebook,with federal regulators, state prosecutors and a Senate subcommittee all looking for answers regarding the social media site’s recent data scandal.

Reuters reported on Thursday that a U.S. Senate subcommittee is looking for information on how the personal data of 50 million Facebook users was accessed and used to help get U.S. President Donald Trump elected in 2016.

A letter from Republican Jerry Moran and Democrat Richard Blumenthal requested for Aleksandr Kogan to explain to the Senate subcommittee how the data was provided to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and how it was used.

In addition to that inquiry, The New York Times reported that the Federal Trade Commission, as well as state prosecutors, are opening investigations into Facebook.

The FTC is investigating whether Facebook violated an agreement regarding the access that third-party apps have to user data. The information on the 50 million users was collected in 2014 by Kogan through an app, which collected information from their profiles and their friends. At the time, Facebook allowed that type of data collection.

If the FTC finds it violated its agreement, Facebook could be fined $40,000 a day per violation.

“We are aware of the issues that have been raised but cannot comment on whether we are investigating,” an FTC spokeswoman said in a statement on Tuesday. “We take any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously.”

In addition, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are investigating whether Facebook failed to protect the privacy of users in those states. New Jersey’s attorney general has also started a similar investigation.

“Consumers have a right to know how their information is used — and companies like Facebook have a fundamental responsibility to protect their users’ personal information,” Schneiderman said. “Today’s demand letter is the first step in our joint investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.”

And several U.S. Senators have asked the chairman of the Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing, while Republican leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding answers about the scandal.

“It’s time for Mr. Zuckerberg and the other CEOs to testify before Congress,” Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, said on Tuesday. “The American people deserve answers about social media manipulation in the 2016 election.”

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