CEO of Instagram to testify before Congress

A lawyer representing Instagram has agreed to testify before a joint congressional committee, revealing that social media executive Adam Mosseri will give a “detailed explanation” of the platform’s data protections as Congress weighs proposed legislation that would hold companies like Facebook and Google more accountable.

So says Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democratic committee member, on Twitter, along with a press release from his office. Pallone was among the leaders of the congressional investigation into Russia’s alleged use of social media to influence the 2016 presidential election.

According to the press release, Facebook announced in November 2017 that its product chief Chris Cox would testify before the committee, followed by Twitter. Twitter general counsel Sean Edgett and Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch will also testify. The committee plans to meet again on Monday, January 15.

Mosseri’s appearance comes less than a week after a Wired article revealed that he had personally approved advertisements sold by Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 presidential election season.

According to an official from Pallone’s office, in addition to offering “detailed” testimony, Mosseri “will discuss information that has been made public about a Facebook user’s data who was, in fact, a paying Facebook user.”

Specifically, he will discuss his role in approving the ad purchases, and the steps he’s taken to verify that if a Facebook user is using Facebook to fund an ad campaign, that same user was the one who first approved the ad campaign, according to Pallone’s office.

“It is important that we investigate the scope of Facebook’s activities during the 2016 presidential election and learn how Facebook’s platform was used to influence our elections,” said Pallone in the statement. “However, I’m concerned that by disclosing his role in approving the work of this ill-informed firm, Mr. Mosseri may give the impression that Facebook somehow condoned the practice of collecting and selling data.”

Last March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the Senate and House committees, telling senators that the company had learned of more than 50 accounts it said were linked to Russian trolls during the campaign season. The company had been alerted to those accounts by the US government. This summer, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a blog post in which he wrote that Cambridge Analytica’s system had “divided the data of up to 87 million Facebook users by using personality traits to infer interests and relationships.”

Facebook has since banned Cambridge Analytica from the platform. But the fallout from the episode has already continued, with calls to investigate the company and a failure by Facebook to reveal detailed data about Cambridge Analytica’s use of its platform.

Leave a Comment