A top US senator investigating Russian election interference is demanding answers from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO and chairman Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a session of the APEC CEO Summit in Lima on November 19, 2016. (RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Sen. Ron Wyden wrote an open letter to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding answers.
  • Wyden is a member of the Senate intelligence committee that is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
  • He wants to know how Facebook data could have been taken and used for political ads when Facebook signed an agreement with the FTC in 2011 promising to protect users privacy.

Sen. Ron Wyden has issued an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday demanding answers.

The Oregon Democrat sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Wyden wants to how many incidents Facebook had that exposed its user’s data and what Facebook knew about how its data was being used.

The letter comes as Facebook is once again under scrutiny after news reports published this weekend revealed the inner workings of Cambridge Analytica (CA). CA is an analytics firm that took data from a reported 50 million Facebook users and leveraged that data to target people with political ads, according to The Guardian and the New York Times.

CA was linked to President Donald Trump’s campaign. Shortly after the firm was founded in 2013, prominent Trump supporter and American businessman Robert Mercer invested $US15 million. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, served as board member.

Wyden wants to know more details about CA’s data gathering efforts from Facebook and if any others have been mining Facebook’s data. He also wants to know why anything like this happened when Facebook signed an agreement way back in 2011 with the Federal Trade Commission promising to protect its users privacy.

So far, this is just a letter asking for answers. But it will be interesting to see how Facebook’s troubles escalate from here: Fines? Oversight? Regulations? Or, possibly, nothing.

Facebook knows how the Washington game is played. It spent $US11.5 million in the 2018 election cycle alone, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

By the way, Wyden isn’t the only senator speaking out against Facebook. On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida discussed the CA situation with NBC’s Chuck Todd, suggesting that Facebook hasn’t been forthcoming to Congressional investigators, and accused the company of acting like it is above the law.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota demanded Zuckerberg testify before Congress.

“This is a major breach that must be investigated. It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves,” she said on Twitter Saturday.

Read Wyden’s full letter here »