Facebook faced blistering scrutiny from state officials, congressional lawmakers and federal regulators Monday, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal continues to embroil the social media giant.
Attorneys general from 37 states and U.S. territories fired off a full-throated letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, demanding an explanation for how data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica obtained personal data for millions of accounts while working for President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Users of Facebook deserve to know the answers to these questions and more, reads the letter, whose signators include New York AG Eric Schneiderman.
We are committed to protecting our residents personal information. More specifically, we need to understand Facebooks policies and procedures in light of the reported misuse of data by developers.
FTC confirms investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices
Also Monday, the Federal Trade Commission announced an investigation into whether Facebook engaged in unfair acts that led to substantial injury for users.
“The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers,” Tom Pahl, the acting director of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “The FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook.”
An FTC probe could result in hefty fines and other repercussions for Facebook.
The Senate Judiciary Committee followed suit, scheduling an April 10 hearing for Zuckerberg to testify on the “future of data privacy and social media.”
Senator wants Mark Zuckerberg to testify about Facebook breaches
Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also called on Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to attend the hearing. The tech executives have faced criticism from Congress ever since the extent to which Russian operatives used social media to meddle in the 2016 election was mapped out by investigators last year.
Zuckberg apologized last week for the “mistakes” he said Facebook are guilty of as it pertains to Cambridge Analytica.
The British-based company improperly accessed personal data on at least 50 million users to create complex algorithms that could have influenced American voters. Those explosive revelations were excacerbated after Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was caught on video telling an undercover British reporter that his company “informed all the strategy” of the Trump campaign, including “all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting.”
The Trump campaign has attempted to downplay the revelations.
Facebook users shouldnt be surprised their data is being tracked
“Another day of people taking credit for @realDonaldTrump’s victory,” newly minted campaign manager Brad Pascale tweeted last week. “So incredibly false and ridiculous. Let them say that under oath. Just an overblown sales pitch.
Zuckerberg has acknowledged data was harvested from users who downloaded a third-party developed quiz, which then raked information on their friends without consent.
Christopher Wylie, a self-identified whistleblower who worked for Cambridge Analytica until 2014, has alleged the shady consulting firm used that information to develop advance tactics to sway voters.
Facebook has admitted that it first found out about the breach in 2015, but only booted Cambridge Analytica from its platforms after the scandal became known to the public earlier this month.
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In his mea culpa statement, Zuckerberg said Facebook could have done more to make sure that Cambridge Analytica actually deleted the data.
The FTC is likely to look into whether Facebook violated its 2011 settlement with the regulatory body, which mandated users have to consent to sharing their data.
This is what Facebook was doing 10 years ago that people objected to, what the FTC should have stopped in 2011, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. It makes zero sense that when a person downloads their apps, they have the ability to transfer the data of their friends.
Facebook welcomed the FTC investigation and it was remains “strongly committed” to protecting peoples sensitive information.
Start treating private personal Facebook data like medical data
But investors werent as rosy Monday.
The companys stock took a serious bruising going as low as $149 a share at one point before rebounding.
As of the closing bell, the company’s stock had bounced back to $160 a share.
The Silicon Valley behemoth might face more problems amid reports it scraped key data from users with Android phones.
Facebook kept track of phone numbers, names and how long every call on the Androids lasted, news site Ars Technica first reported.
The company said the data harvesting was common practice and required consent from a user who downloads apps like Facebook Lite or Messenger.
People have to expressly agree to use this feature, Facebook said in a blog post Sunday. If, at any time, they no longer wish to use this feature they can turn it off in settings, or here for Facebook Lite users, and all previously shared call and text history shared via that app is deleted.
The wave of scrutiny levied against Facebook Monday comes as the company already faces a class-action lawsuit from several users seeking damages for their data being improperly accessed.
The company has been on an apology tour since the Cambridge Analytica news sent stock plummeting last week.
It took out full-page ads in a handful of major newspapers Sunday, saying its users deserve better.
But scrutiny remained strong on Monday.
Website Futurism posted a cartoon of MySpace founder Tom Anderson as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, asking him to correct Facebooks problems.
Help us, @myspacetom. You’re our only hope. #DeleteFacebook, the website tweeted.
With News Wire Services