According to a report from cable news network CNN earlier today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided to testify before U.S. Congress amid growing concerns over user privacy.
As of publishing this post, Facebook has not confirmed these reports — but it comes after Zuckerberg expressed in several recent interviews a somewhat uncharacteristic willingness to testify before lawmakers.
It is also unclear which congressional committee Zuckerberg will appear before. In addition to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has also asked him to testify, and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have voiced an interest in questioning him.
Zuckerberg has declined, however, to agree to requests from Damian Collins, the U.K. Parliament’s media committee chair, to appear for questioning. Instead, Facebook says, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Mike Schroepfer, or Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, would make the appearance.
Facebook has been under heightened scrutiny since revelations that it was weaponized by foreign agents to spread misinformation and divisive content to help influence the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. The recent pressure to appear before Congress, however, is largely the result of allegations that personal user data was misused by analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.
Since then, authorities and users alike have been taking a closer look at Facebook’s privacy policies, as well as the details of what sort of data the social network has allowed third parties to collect.
Zuckerberg’s verbal willingness to appear and testify before authorities has many wondering if Facebook — along with its Big Tech counterparts like Google and Twitter — will finally relent on its fight against government regulation. The events are taking place on the heels of the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) coming into force this May, which concerns the personal data of EU citizens.
This is a developing story that I’ll be monitoring as it unfolds. Questions? Feel free to weigh in on Twitter.