clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Calls for Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress are getting louder

The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent Zuckerberg a formal letter Friday asking for testimony “in the near future.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Harvard’s commencement in 2017. Paul Marotta / Getty

Mark Zuckerberg said this week that he’d be “open to” testifying before members of Congress on the company’s latest privacy scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

Congress really really wants that to happen.

Top lawmakers at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has subcommittees focused on communication and technology and consumer protection, sent a formal letter to Zuckerberg on Friday asking him to appear on Capitol Hill “in the near future.”

“In comments to the press, you stated that the person with the most knowledge at Facebook about what Congress is trying to learn is the most appropriate witness for a congressional hearing,” the letter, which is signed by six members of Congress, read. “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.”

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the company received the letter and is reviewing it.

The call to testify caps what has been a busy week for Facebook. It was learned late last Friday that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, gained access to the personal data of roughly 50 million users without their permission.

Facebook spent the week trying to explain what happened, and Zuckerberg finally did a press tour Wednesday apologizing and trying to smooth over concerns that the social network can no longer be trusted.

In an interview with Recode, Zuckerberg said he was open to testifying before Congress on the matter “if I’m the right [person].”

Numerous politicians in both the U.S. and U.K. have called on Zuckerberg to testify about the company’s data practices.

Most recently, when Facebook was summoned to Capitol Hill to explain how Russian sources used the social network to try and influence public opinion ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook sent its top lawyer to the hearing, not Zuckerberg.

The big concern for Facebook investors is that Congress will impart stricter regulations on the social giant. Facebook has built a big business by employing personal data in order to target users with advertisements. Any restriction on collecting, storing or using that data could hurt Facebook’s business.

In an interview with Wired this week, Zuckerberg said it was more a matter of when, not if. “The question isn’t, ‘Should there be regulation or shouldn’t there be?’ he said. “It’s ‘How do you do it?’” Facebook is open to regulation, it just wants to ensure that any new rules are administered industry-wide and not targeting the social giant exclusively.

Public testimonies and potential regulations are not the only possible punishments for Facebook. Lawsuits from shareholders and Facebook users have also been filed.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.