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Facebook won’t say if Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress

Sources say it’s likely. But why is it even something to debate?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Drew Angerer / Getty

Facebook won’t confirm whether CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress, even though he already said he was open to it.

Zuckerberg is likely to appear in Washington to discuss the data privacy scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, according to a source. But the fact that Facebook is still considering its options, even as several lawmakers have asked Zuckerberg to testify, is noteworthy. CNN reported earlier Tuesday that he is planning to testify in Washington.

Officially, Facebook says that it is still undecided, and a spokesperson declined to confirm CNN’s story, which states Zuckerberg “has come to terms with the fact that he will have to testify before Congress within a matter of weeks, and Facebook is currently planning the strategy for his testimony.”

A Facebook spokesperson said, “I can reiterate that we’ve received the invites and are talking to legislators.”

Zuckerberg told Recode last week he was open to testifying on the issue:

You know, I’m open to doing that. I think that the way that we look at testifying in front of Congress is that ... We actually do this fairly regularly, right? There are high-profile ones like the Russian investigation, but there are lots of different topics that Congress needs and wants to know about. And the way that we approach it is that our responsibility is to make sure that they have access to all the information that they need to have. So I’m open to doing it.

The CEO has, however, turned down a request to testify in front of U.K. lawmakers. Cambridge Analytica is a U.K.-based company and while it worked with U.S. campaigns for 2016, its current client roster mostly features European politicians. Zuckerberg can’t be compelled to appear as he’s not a U.K. citizen.

He has been personally invited to testify by three separate U.S. congressional committees, which has higher stakes.

When Facebook went to Washington last fall to answer questions about Russian ads appearing on the service ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Facebook sent its top lawyer to testify instead of Zuckerberg.

Update: A spokesperson for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, one of the committees that invited Zuckerberg to testify, says that the CEO hasn’t committed to testify either.

“Reports of Mr. Zuckerberg’s confirmed attendance are incorrect. The committee is continuing to work with Facebook to determine a day and time for Mr. Zuckerberg to testify,” Elena Hernandez, a spokesperson for the committee, told Recode.

A spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee, which also invited Zuckerberg to testify, said that she had “no update” when asked if Zuckerberg would testify. A separate spokesperson for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the third committee to invite Zuckerberg to Washington, also said there was no update.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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