Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress for the first time Tuesday, to answer questions about the tech giant’s data breach with Cambridge Analytica. The political data firm harvested personal information from as many as 87 million Facebook users and used it to create targeted digital ads during the 2016 presidential election.
Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg have apologized and outlined plans to restrict future data access. Facebook began notifying users on Monday whether their personal information was collected by Cambridge Analytica.
It’s not the first time the social media giant has faced controversy. Last year, the company had to answer Congress’ questions about digital ads that were purchased on its platform and circulated by Russian actors interfering in the 2016 election. Facebook’s efforts to monitor hate speech and false news online have also pushed the company to reexamine its role in politics and society.
Starting Tuesday, however, the focus will shift to Zuckerberg, who will be making his first appearance before a congressional committee.
When: Tuesday, 2:15 pm ET.
Who: Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees, meeting jointly.
Format: Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Commerce Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., will preside over a hearing titled “Facebook, Social Media Privacy and the Use and Abuse of Data.” The hearing will begin with Zuckerberg’s testimony (he is the only witness) and will be followed by opening statements and then questions from the committee members.
Purpose: Senator Thune said the hearing will gauge Zuckerberg’s plans for “addressing problems that have generated significant concern about Facebook’s role in our democracy, bad actors using the platform, and user privacy.”
When: Wednesday, 10 am ET.
Who: House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Format: Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., the panel’s top Democrat, will each give an opening statement, followed by Zuckerberg’s testimony. Then each of the committee’s 55 members can ask up to five minutes of questions. According to Zuckerberg’s prepared testimony before the committee, which was released Monday, he will apologize for the company’s failure to prevent the Cambridge Analytica data breach, and also address the dissemination of fake news, foreign interference in elections, and how Facebook handles hate speech. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here,” Zuckerberg said in his prepared remarks.
Purpose: In a joint statement, Walden and Pallone said 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.”