Zuckerberg to testify on Capitol Hill as company loses major advertising deals, #deleteFacebook movement gains

Simply put, this hasn’t been a great week for Facebook. As more information comes to light about the data mining of some 50 million Facebook users’ profiles by British firm Cambridge Analytica, a bona fide movement has erupted across the internet, symbolized by the viral hashtag #deleteFacebook.

The maelstrom of protests has come from individual users as well as from global business and advertising conglomerates. The global reach that tech titans like Facebook have means these platforms are practically indispensable to business as we know it in the 21st century, making it unlikely that Facebook will remain a pariah for long. However, faith in Facebook’s ability to keep information secure has wavered in recent weeks, leading to major fallouts for the social media platform.

Indeed, business and retail giants, including McDonald’s, Adidas, and Unilever have pulled advertising from Facebook this week. As CNN reports, these withdrawals threaten major ripples, given that in 2017 alone, almost 98 percent of Facebook’s total revenue was earned from advertising. While many don’t consider Facebook’s long-term bottom line to be in serious jeopardy the social media giant’s stock price has dwindled by a whopping 17 percent since the scandal broke nearly two weeks ago

Among the most noteworthy reactions is that of Elon Musk, the magnate responsible for some of the world’s most active hubs of tech research, including SpaceX and Tesla, who deleted the Facebook pages for both companies almost as soon as #deleteFacebook began trending on Twitter.

Reverberating beyond the worlds of tech and big business, Facebook’s fumble has caught the attention of several state and federal legislators in the U.S. Attorneys general from Oregon, New Jersey, and Connecticut sent probing letters to the company this week demanding more information on precisely how the data leaks took place.

On Capitol Hill, both the Senate and the House have made formal requests for CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on the Cambridge scandal. The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees have separately petitioned Zuckerberg’s testimony.

As Zuckerberg gave several interviews regarding the data leaks Wednesday, March 21, he told Wired’s Nicholas Thompson that he is willing to give legislators the information they require.

“If it is ever the case that I am the most informed person at Facebook in the best position to testify, I will happily do that.” He added, “the reason why we haven’t done that so far is because there are people at the company whose full jobs are to deal with legal compliance or some of these different things, and they’re just fundamentally more in the details on those things.”

Zuckerberg’s attempt at delegating testimony to the most appropriate employees at Facebook, however, was rejected by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In their letter, committee members insisted that Zuckerberg alone is able provide the information necessary to proceed with their investigations.

“As the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook and the employee who has been the leader of Facebook through all the key strategic decisions since its launch, you are the right person to testify before Congress about those decisions and the Facebook business model,” wrote committee chair, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore).

While Zuckerberg may be willing to answer Congress’ probing questions, the young executive has been less forthcoming in his committal to appear before British parliament, as the company has said it will send either its chief tech or product officer to handle the U.K. inquiry.

 

[New York Times] [Los Angeles Times] [CNNMoney] [AP] [Reuters] [CNBC] [Wired] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy NDTV.com]