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Facebook's Zuckerberg to testify before US committee

Facebook's Zuckerberg to testify before US committee

  • 4 April 2018
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Zuckerberg has seen shares in his company fall steeply since the start of the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is to testify before the US House Commerce Committee regarding the firm's use and protection of user data.

Facebook has faced criticism after it emerged it had known for years that Cambridge Analytica had harvested data from about 50 million of its users.

He will testify before the committee on Wednesday, 11 April.

Committee chairman Greg Walden and member Frank Pallone welcomed the decision by Mr Zuckerberg.

"This 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," the pair said.

Facebook is facing scrutiny over its data collection following allegations that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users to try to influence elections.

Cambridge Analytica worked for US President Donald Trump's campaign.

The company, funded in part by Trump supporter and billionaire financier Robert Mercer, paired consumer data with voter information.

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  • Facebook privacy settings revamped after scandal

Cambridge Analytica gathered the data through a personality test app, called This Is Your Digital Life, that was downloaded by fewer than 200,000 people.

However, the app gave researchers access to the profiles of participants' Facebook friends, allowing them to collect data from millions more users.

Mr Walden and Mr Pallone said last month that they wanted to hear directly from Mr Zuckerberg after senior Facebook executives failed to answer questions during a private briefing with congressional staff about how Facebook and third-party developers use and protect consumer data.

Image copyright Getty Images

Facebook has also published new versions of its terms of service and data use policy.

The firm said the documents were longer than the previous versions in order to make their language clearer and more descriptive.

The data policy now states: "We don't sell any of your information to anyone, and we never will."

However, this does not prevent the firm from using the data to let advertisers target their promotions. It will also continue to share anonymised analytics and insights with third-parties.

Facebook will now carry out a week-long consultation before finalising the text and adopting it.

'Breach of trust'

Facebook, which has two billion users, is now one of the main ways politicians connect with voters. It has been looking to repair its public image and restore users' trust since the Cambridge Analytica scandal emerged.

Facebook said last month that it had hired forensic auditors to examine if Cambridge Analytica still had the data.

Mr Zuckerberg has apologised for a "breach of trust", and taken out full-page advertisements in several UK and US Sunday newspapers.

He has also said he welcomes more regulation.

The US Senate commerce and judiciary committees also have requested that Mr Zuckerberg appear in front of them.

And the US Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook engaged in unfair acts that caused substantial injury to consumers.