Pressure mounts on Zuckerberg to face data breach concerns

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is facing intensified calls to appear in person at investigations into the social network’s conduct.His company has been accused of failing to properly inform users that their profile information may have been obtained and kept by Cambridge Analytica, a data firm widely-credited with helping Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook said on Friday it had blocked Cambridge Analytica from Facebook while it investigated claims the London-based firm did not, as promised, delete data that was allegedly obtained using methods that were in violation of Facebook’s policies.

Both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook deny any wrongdoing.Despite pledging that in 2018 he would “fix” his company, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has managed to avoid engaging with the site’s growing number of critics – instead sending lawyers or policy bosses to various committee hearings.

The 33-year-old’s recent remarks on some of Facebook’s controversies have been communicated in the relatively safe space of a blog post or video message published on his Facebook page.With the building row over how Facebook data may have been used to fuel highly-targeted political propaganda, several influential figures on both side of the Atlantic this weekend said it was time for Mr Zuckerberg to step up to publicly defend – or at least justify – his creation.

Some called for investigations into whether Mr Zuckerberg’s company may have violated laws governing disclosure of a data breach – and also rules on properly obtaining a user’s consent to collect personal information.

“This is a major breach that must be investigated,” demanded Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.That sentiment was backed by Adam Schiff, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is already investigating social media manipulation in the run up to the 2016 presidential election.

“I think it would be beneficial to have him come testify before the appropriate oversight committees,” he told the Washington Post.“And not just Mark but the other CEOs of the other major companies that operate in this space.”The man in charge of Britain’s investigation into Russian meddling in the democratic process said he too wanted to press Mr Zuckerberg on the issue.

“I will be writing to Mark Zuckerberg asking that either he or another senior executive from the company appear to give evidence in front of the committee as part our inquiry,” said Damian Collins MP.Mr Collins also said he would be recalling Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix to parliament to answer more questions.