Facebook picked mid-level staffers to face angry US lawmakers over Cambridge Analytica

Staying out of the spotlight.
Staying out of the spotlight.
Image: Reuters/Kay Nietfeld
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Facebook executives have been summoned in front of the US Congress yet again. This time they’re expected to explain why they allowed Cambridge Analytica, a marketing firm used by the Trump presidential campaign, to harvest the information of tens of millions of users without their consent.

Executives are expected to speak to the House Judiciary Committee as soon as tomorrow (March 21) and the Senate Intelligence Committee later in the week. As of right now, Facebook isn’t sending its highest profile officials—Molly Cutler, associate general counsel, and Rob Sherman, deputy chief privacy officer, are scheduled to brief the House.

Since news of the Cambridge Analytica story broke in Europe and the US, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top Facebook executives have been remarkably silent, eschewing public appearances and even failing to post on the topic on their own platform. Meanwhile, they’ve bungled the company’s reaction to the story, media experts say.

Zuckerberg, who owns 53% of the company’s voting shares, is seen as particularly vulnerable in public testimony, Congressional investigation experts told Quartz earlier. If he stumbles or is misquoted, it could depress the company’s already falling stock price even further.

Last year, when Facebook was forced to publicly testify in front of Congress about its role in Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, the company sent its top lawyers. However, COO Sheryl Sandberg did come to Washington, DC last year for a lengthy background briefing with lawmakers, and then sat down later with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Lawmakers, who have already said they were frustrated that Facebook was not taking its role in Russian election meddling seriously enough, are unlikely to be impressed.