Lawmakers in the United States and the United Kingdom have criticised Facebook Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg after reports suggested that Cambridge Analytica – a company credited with helping Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential elections in the US – obtained information of 50 million Facebook users, the BBC reported.
On Friday, Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica and its parent body Strategic Communication Laboratories for violating its data privacy policies.
Damian Collins, the Conservative lawmaker who heads the British Parliament’s media committee, said he would ask Zuckerberg or another Facebook executive to appear before his panel, the Time magazine reported. Collins’ panel is investigating disinformation and “fake news”.
“Someone has to take responsibility for this,” he said, adding that Facebook has “consistently understated” the risk of data leaks and provided misleading answers to the committee. “It is time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding behind his Facebook page.”
In Washington DC, Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota asked Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee. “This is a major breach that must be investigated,” Klobuchar tweeted. “It is clear these platforms can’t police themselves. I have called for more transparency and accountability for online political ads.”
Adam Schiff, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee backed Klobuchar. “I think it would be beneficial to have him [Zuckerberg] come testify before the appropriate oversight committees,” he told The Washington Post. “And not just Mark but the other CEOs of the other major companies that operate in this space.”
The House Intelligence Committee is already investigating social media manipulation in the run up to the 2016 US presidential election.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has also launched a separate investigation into the data breach, Bloomberg reported.
The social media network said it found that in 2015, Alexandr Kogan, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, had passed on data from an app he had created to Cambridge Analytica. The app had been downloaded by 2.7 lakh Facebook users. Facebook discovered that Kogan had also shared the data with Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies Inc.
Subsequently, the social media network deleted the app and asked Kogan, Wylie and Cambridge Analytica to destroy the leaked information. All three parties confirmed that the data no longer existed, but Facebook received reports a few days ago that not all the information had been destroyed.