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State Attorneys General Asked Facebook These 7 Questions About Cambridge Analytica

March 27, 2018, 10:59 AM UTC

The pressure is piling up on Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Following the revelations that London-based Cambridge Analytica had harvested data from millions of Facebook users to influence elections, private citizens and politicians alike are fighting to hold the social media giant accountable.

Legislators in the U.S. and U.K. have called for government action, a non-partisan watchdog group has filed complaints with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission, and the FTC has opened an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practice.

Now, state attorneys general are wading in. A bipartisan group of 37 attorneys wrote a letter to Zuckerberg in an effort to better understand Facebook’s role in the data breach.

The signees expressed profound concern, noting that the revelations “raise many serious questions concerning Facebook’s policies and practices, and the processes in place to ensure they are followed.” The AGs want to know:

  1. Were those terms of service clear and understandable, or buried in boilerplate where few users would even read them?
  2. How did Facebook monitor what these developers did with all the data that they collected?
  3. What type of controls did Facebook have over the data given to developers?
  4. Did Facebook have protective safeguards in place, including audits, to ensure developers were not misusing the Facebook user’s data?
  5. How many users in our respective states were impacted?
  6. When did Facebook learn of this breach of privacy protections?
  7. During this timeframe, what other third party “research” applications were also able to access the data of unsuspecting Facebook users?

The attorneys general also requested an update on Facebook’s efforts to maintain users’ privacy, saying, “Facebook has made promises about users’ privacy in the past, and we need to know that users can trust Facebook. With the information we have now, our trust has been broken.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced on Monday a hearing on the future of data privacy in social media to be held in April. Zuckerberg is among those invited to testify, alongside Google and Twitter CEOs Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey.