- Mark Zuckerberg is set to appear before US politicians in public for the first time Tuesday to explain Facebook’s mishandling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
- Zuckerberg has generally avoided explaining himself to politicians, and The New York Times says he has hired a team of external consultants to coach him on the questions they may ask.
- It’s a big moment for Facebook, whose core practices are under extreme media and political scrutiny.
Facebook has hired a bunch of experts to coach CEO Mark Zuckerberg ahead of his scheduled testimony to Congress this week, according to The New York Times.
Zuckerberg is expected to appear before US politicians on Tuesday to explain Facebook’s mishandling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The Times cited anonymous sources as saying a team of experts was prepping him with the questions politicians were likely to ask, how to time his answers, and how to deal with being interrupted.
Facebook’s outside consultants reportedly include a team from the US law firm WilmerHale led by Reginald J. Brown, previously a special adviser to President George W. Bush. According to his profile on WilmerHale’s site, Brown is well versed in coaching clients “facing complex and high stakes regulatory, enforcement, and reputational matters.”
An internal communications team is also said to be working on Zuckerberg’s manner, given he is primarily a techie who is uncomfortable speaking in public, generally handing off those duties to lieutenants such as Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. Preparations have reportedly involved setting up mock congressional hearings in which the external consultants role-play US politicians.
According to The Times, the internal team is pushing Zuckerberg to answer questions directly and not appear too defensive.
Zuckerberg is set to appear before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Tuesday and the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. It’s the first time he has had to explain himself to the US government in public – something he’s generally resisted. He has already avoided questioning by UK politicians.
“This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online,” a statement from House commerce committee leaders says.
According to The Times, Democrats are likely to ask about the privacy scandal and how Facebook plans to prevent future election interference as the US midterms approach. Republics are more likely to focus on political bias on Facebook.