Amy Klobuchar wants Mark Zuckerberg to testify in Congress

It follows the social media giant's decision to ban Cambridge Analytica.
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What's happening?

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar says she wants Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It comes amid the fallout from the banning of data firm Cambridge Analytica from Facebook on Friday, after a whistleblower lifted the lid on the company's alleged dodgy tactics.

What's it all about?

Cambridge Analytica, the political data analytics subsidiary of Strategic Communication Laboratories, gained access to 50 million Facebook profiles of U.S. voters starting no later than 2015, but possibly in 2014.

Facebook, in a statement, said it did this via a University of Cambridge professor, who published a personality profile app called "thisisyourdigitallife," encouraging users to download it via Facebook.

The social media giant says this professor then passed this data on to Cambridge Analytica, which worked with Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the campaign for Brexit, and was at one point headed up by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

Only 270,000 people downloaded the app, however The Guardian reports – and Facebook has confirmed – that the app also collected the information of test-takers' Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of 50 million profiles.

This is counter to Facebook policies, which says the collection of friends' data is only meant to be used to improve its app experience, and is not allowed to be sold on or used for advertising purposes.

A whistleblower told the newspaper that Cambridge Analytica then used this data to target users with personalized political ads and run software that could "predict and influence choices at the ballot box."

Facebook in its statement said that it's investigating reports that not all the data was deleted.

Facebook can't police itself, Klobuchar says

Sen. Klobuchar has been a leading political voice calling for a crackdown on social media following the proliferation of fake political ads during the 2016 elections.

In a statement on Saturday, she said: "It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves. I've called for more transparency and accountability for online political ads.

"They say 'trust us.' Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee."

This piece from Forbes also identifies Facebook as the main culprit here, noting that analytics companies all over the world mine social media information in the name of research and what Cambridge Analytica did was no different.

"The singular focus on Cambridge Analytica makes for a simple meme-worthy media narrative, but the reality is that what the company stands accused of by Facebook is in fact what academic researchers, commercial enterprises, governments and even the social media companies themselves do every day with the data entrusted to them by a quarter of the earth’s population."

Writer Kaleev Leetaru concludes: "In the end, instead of holding Cambridge Analytica up as a villain, if society at large has concerns about how their Facebook social media personas can be used to monitor and potentially manipulate them, they should take a closer look at the platform that makes it all possible: Facebook."

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