Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer on Thursday endured an almost five-hour hearing with a British parliamentary committee, having been grilled over the company's recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as the more general issue of online disinformation and the manner in which the world's largest social media network harvests, manages, and leverages user data. The hearing was part of a wider parliamentary probe into misinformation and fake news that expanded to Facebook's most recent issues in recent weeks, with the investigation already revealing the American political consulting firm that improperly mined data of up to 87 million Facebook users in 2014 likely compromised even more people and wasn't the only company with such a modus operandi.
Mr. Schroepfer revealed little to no new information during the questioning, having repeatedly been accused of evading questions, with British legislators also alleging Facebook itself is exhibiting an alarming pattern of behavior, partially referring to the company's threat to sue The Guardian before the outlet publicized part of the Cambridge Analytica expose in March. The committee concluded Facebook's CTO "failed to answer fully on nearly 40 separate points" following the hearing. Among the few tidbits of information Mr. Schroepfer did confirm was that Palantir, a big data company run by Facebook investor, board member, and tech mogul Peter Thiel, is being investigated by Facebook as part of its wide probe into potential data misuse that happened on its platform in the past. Facebook is currently also under pressure to cooperate with a British government-led investigation into Aggregate IQ, a Canadian data firm said to have been involved in efforts of pushing a pro-Brexit online agenda in the run-up to the 2016 referendum that saw UK citizens vote to leave the European Union.
Mr. Schroepfer appeared in front of British lawmakers as an envoy of Facebook co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg who recently underwent his own grilling in front of several congressional committees in the United States but refused to do the same in the United Kingdom. Session committee chair Damian Collins yesterday said the parliamentary body will be renewing its request for Mr. Zuckerberg to testify following media reports that he agreed to participate in a Brussels hearing over the Cambridge Analytica controversy organized by EU officials.