Facebook’s Zuckerberg To Speak As Washington Scrutiny Reignites

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the Oculus Connect 4 product launch event in San Jose, California, on Oct. 11, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is planning to break days of silence about his company’s mounting crisis as Washington demands answers over how the personal data of millions of his company’s users could be exploited by a consulting firm linked to President Donald Trump.

Amid bipartisan calls for him testify before Congress and scrutiny by the main U.S. privacy regulator and state attorneys general, Zuckerberg plans to speak publicly before Thursday morning in an effort to regain trust in the company, according to a person familiar with the plans. Further details of the address were still being worked out.

The uproar over Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that consulted on Trump’s campaign, has sparked new questions about how Zuckerberg could allow his network to be abused again for political ends. The stock reversed earlier losses Wednesday and was up less than 1 percent in New York.

Even before the latest revelations, senators had been calling for social media CEOs to testify about their efforts to tackle ongoing meddling on their platforms by Russia, as well as attempts to inflame social debates in the U.S. on issues like gun control. Now, it’s almost certain that some of these CEOs will be summoned for congressional hearings.

Facebook — which saw its stock value plummet by $60 billion since the revelations emerged, sparking an investor lawsuit — had sent lower-level executives to brief several congressional panels on Wednesday, but a snowstorm in Washington resulted in postponements.

Even if they resume Thursday, the meetings are unlikely to satisfy lawmakers who are calling for the inquiries to extend to other companies including Twitter and Google.

(c) 2018, Bloomberg · Sarah Frier, Billy House, Ben Brody



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