Politicians in Congress and Parliament are demanding Facebook testify as to how a conservative political data firm with ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign collected profiles from more than 50 million unsuspecting Facebook users to target voters during the presidential election.
According to The New York Times and The Observer, Cambridge Analytica, which was founded by former Trump senior adviser and Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon and conservative donor Robert Mercer, was able to gather data from millions of Facebook profiles without their consent or notification. The firm claimed it could use “psychographic modeling” from that data that allowed it to identify the personalities of individual voters and influence their behavior.
Since the reports surfaced on Saturday, Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey announced on Twitter that that her office would be launching an investigation into the data leak, linking to the NYT report. On Capitol Hill, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, demanded that Mark Zuckerberg testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the leak.
Facebook breach: This is a major breach that must be investigated. It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves. I’ve called for more transparency & accountability for online political ads. They say “trust us.” Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) March 17, 2018
Meanwhile, in London, Conservative MP Damian Collins also demanded that Zuckerberg testify before Parliament, as he continues an investigation into possible Russian meddling during the U.K.’s Brexit referendum vote.
“We need to hear from people who can speak about Facebook from a position of authority that requires them to know the truth,” Collins said. “The reputation of this company is being damaged by stealth, because of their constant failure to respond with clarity and authority to the questions of genuine public interest that are being directed to them.”
“Someone has to take responsibility for this,” Collins concluded. “It’s time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding behind his Facebook page.”
Facebook VP Paul Grewal said in a statement on Sunday that the company is currently performing a “comprehensive internal and external review” to determine whether the Facebook data that was acquired still exists. Christopher Wylie, Cambridge Analytica’s former director of research who exposed the firm’s data system to the media, has refused to cooperate with Facebook until the suspension on the account is lifted.
“Given he said he ‘exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles,’ we cannot do this at this time,” Grewal’s statement reads.