Facebook agreed to cooperate with authorities in the European Union on their investigation into the company's recent data scandal revolving around American political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica which improperly harvested data on tens of millions of Facebook users in 2014. During a Thursday briefing in Brussels, Belgium, a spokesperson for Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said the social media giant responded to the official's letter inquiring about the matter last month and the two parties are now planning "high-level contacts in the coming days." The representative provided no further clarification, having only confirmed the investigation will pertain to Facebook's privacy practices and has been directly prompted by the Cambridge Analytica controversy.
While initial reports suggested the firm in the center of the scandal harvested data of some 50 million people, Facebook on Wednesday revealed the scope of the incident may encompass as much as 87 million users. Cambridge Analytica insists it never leveraged any collected data to wage an information war during the 2016 presidential election in the United States on behalf of the Trump campaign, which is what one former employee accused the firm of doing last month. The data analytics and consulting service provider also agreed to an independent forensic audit of its servers in order to prove it deleted the data in 2015 which Facebook requested it to do but said it wasn't able to confirm whether the company actually obliged.
The scandal saw Facebook's investors lose tens of billions of dollars in market capitalization, with the company stock now finally stabilizing after weeks of decline and trading at approximately $160, which is on par with its June 2017 valuation. Facebook co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg will testify on the incident and the tech giant's general privacy practices in front of a congressional committee next Wednesday, April 11. Industry watchers remain divided in regards to predicting any specific long-term consequences of the ordeal, though most agree the controversy is likely to result in much stricter regulations being imposed on Facebook, both in the U.S. and Europe.