Facebook co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg will testify on the company’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and general privacy practices next week, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden and Ranking Member Frank Pallone said earlier today. The Washington DC hearing will take place next Wednesday, April 11, at 10 AM local time. The two government officials welcomed Mr. Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify on the matter and “help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online.” The hearing has been in the making for several weeks now, according to recent reports.
The ordeal that led to the development started with Cambridge Analytica harvesting data of some 50 million Facebook users in 2014 via a third-party app developer. A personality quiz collected information of approximately 270,000 people who took it but also ended up gathering data on all of their friends on the world’s largest social network without obtaining their permission to do so, with one whistleblower accusing the firm of leveraging that data to fight an information war on behalf of the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Cambridge Analytica repeatedly denied those accusations, having claimed it deleted the data at least a year prior to the election. Facebook wasn’t able to verify that notion but has now ended up hiring an independent agency meant to conduct a forensic audit of Cambridge Analytica’s servers. The political consulting firm agreed to the review to clear its name but has already been harshly criticized by the general public over its role in a number of other elections that it reportedly attempted to influence at the expense of people’s digital privacy.
The scandal saw Facebook lose tens of billions of dollars in its market capitalization in recent weeks and may have serious long-term implications for the Menlo Park, California-based firm, according to many industry watchers. Facebook is now at risk of being hit with stricter federal regulations and is also being investigated by authorities in the European Union due to the incident. The manner in which Cambridge Analytica harvested user data in 2014 has been forbidden by Facebook‘s terms of service a year after the controversial misuse took place and shouldn’t happen again, the company said.