Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before Congress, three weeks after it was reported that Cambridge Analytica accessed the personal information of tens of millions of Facebook users without permission and used it to spread pro-Trump, anti-Clinton messaging during the 2016 election.
Yesterday, Facebook said that 87 million Facebook users may have been affected — a significant increase from the original estimate of 50 million.
When will Mark Zuckerberg testify before Congress?
Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the Senate Judiciary and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees on Tuesday, April 10 at 2:15 pm Eastern time. He will return for more testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, April 11, at 10 am Eastern.
Zuckerberg is expected to answer questions about Facebook's user privacy policies, which have been criticized as too opaque, and the company's dissemination of seemingly private data. The CEO will likely be asked about Facebook's participation in the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns, and the company's awareness of Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of user data without user consent to create psychological profiles of American voters.
The Senate hearing "will explore approaches to privacy that satisfy consumer expectations while encouraging innovation," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a statement. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said the House 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.”
Several members of Congress had called for Zuckerberg to testify after the Cambridge Analytica story was reported by the New York Times, the Guardian and the Observer of London on March 17.
In follow-ups, the Times reported that Cambridge Analytica has connections to Russian oil giant Lukoil and John Bolton, the conservative hawk who has just been chosen by President Trump to be national security adviser. Britain's Channel 4 also aired a hidden-camera exposé in which Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix said the company handled the Trump campaign's entire digital strategy. He also talked about influencing elections with techniques including entrapment and bribery. The report led to Nix's suspension.