Mark Zuckerberg intends to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
Shortly after this post was published, a spokesperson for the House committee told Washington Post reporter Tony Romm, “Reports of Mr. Zuckerberg’s confirmed attendance are incorrect. The committee is continuing to work with Facebook to determine a day and time for Mr. Zuckerberg to testify.”
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have voiced concerns over reports that political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica gathered private information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts and later used it to aid Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee have all invited Zuckerberg to testify since the story broke.
Sources within Facebook told CNN that Zuckerberg is already developing a strategy for his testimony. They further indicated that his decision will push Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to also accept an invitation from Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, who called on all three CEOs to attend an April 10 hearing on “the future of data privacy and social media.”
Zuckerberg has, however, decided to turn down a similar invitation from the United Kingdom’s parliament. Damian Collins, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, asked Zuckerberg last week to appear before UK lawmakers to “give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process.” Facebook’s head of UK public policy sent Collins a response on Tuesday, offering instead for the company to send its Chief Technology Officer or Chief Product Officer. Zuckerberg had previously declined to speak before this same committee on the effects of fake news on the country’s democracy.
Collins told the Guardian, “It is absolutely astonishing that Mark Zuckerberg is not prepared to submit himself to questioning in front of a parliamentary or congressional hearing, given these are questions of fundamental importance and concern to his users, as well as to this inquiry.”
Facebook’s broader data collection methods have been thrust into the spotlight because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Beyond nefarious campaign firms, the public has become increasingly aware of how the platform, advertisers, and third-party app developers also profit off of the intimate details that users often unknowingly divulge. Over the weekend, the company confirmed that it has even been collecting call records and SMS data on Android devices through its Messenger app. Members of Congress are currently considering legislation that would regulate data privacy practices, which Zuckerberg’s testimony would no doubt influence.
Update, March 27, 2018, 3 p.m. EDT: Shortly after the post was published, a House committee spokesperson clarified that Zuckerberg’s participation was not yet confirmed. This story was updated to add that statement.