Reps. Greg Walden and Frank Pallone, Jr., the chair and ranking member of the committee, respectively, said in a statement that the 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.”
Zuckerberg turned down a similar request from European regulators last week, in which they asked him to appear before a UK Parliamentary committee undertaking a similar investigation. Both the US and UK interest in Facebook’s treatment of data was spurred by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which former research director Christopher Wylie exposed Cambridge Analytica’s efforts to harvest personal data from as many as 50 million Facebook users. The data was used to target ads for Cambridge Analytica clients, including Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The FTC also confirmed an open investigation into whether Cambridge Analytica’s data collection violated an earlier consent decree by Facebook.
Facebook has been in the midst of a PR cataclysm sparked by reports last month from the Guardian and New York Times, which revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political consultancy previously hired by the presidential campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz and President Donald Trump, had illegitimately used profile information for 50 million Facebook users to create psychological profiles for use in coordinated political influence campaigns. Facebook learned about Cambridge Analytica’s use of the data in 2015, Facebook VP Paul Grewal said in blog post, and told the firm to delete the data, which it reportedly did not do.