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House panel calls on Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to testify

Last Updated Mar 22, 2018 6:10 PM EDT

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify amid allegations that a data firm that worked for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, Cambridge Analytica, misused the data of tens of millions of Facebook users. In a statement released on Thursday, the committee announced it would be sending a "formal letter to Zuckerberg in the coming days."

Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, and Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, said, "The latest revelations regarding Facebook's use and security of user data raises many serious consumer protection concerns." He added, "After committee staff received a briefing yesterday from Facebook officials, we felt that many questions were left unanswered."

A committee spokesperson said this would be the first congressional committee to formally request Zuckerberg's testimony. No hearing has been scheduled yet. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has oversight over the technology and telecom industries.  

The committee's request for Zuckerberg to testify comes a day after he told WIRED editor-in-chief and CBS News contributor Nicholas Thompson in an interview that he's open to testifying.

"If it is ever the case that I am the most informed person at Facebook in the best position to testify, I will happily do that" Zuckerberg told Thompson in an interview with WIRED.

In their statement, Walden and Pallone said Zuckerberg is the "right person" to testify.

"We believe, as CEO of Facebook, he is the right witness to provide answers to the American people," Walden and Pallone said.

In an interview with CNBC Thursday afternoon, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the misuse of data was a "breach of trust" and apologized to Facebook's users.

"People come to Facebook every day and they depend on us to protect their data, and I am so sorry that we let so many people down," Sandberg noted.

Sandberg also acknowledged in the interview that "bad actors" will always be around on Facebook's platform, but added the company will work promptly to eradicate and disclose problems on the platform, while building a foundation of trust with its users.