Senators Seeks Face Time With Zuckerberg

Calls for Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress intensified Friday.

At about the same time House leaders were 'inviting' the Facebook CEO to appear before the House Energy & Commerce Committee in the near future, their opposite numbers on the Senate Commerce Committee were doing the same.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the committee, and ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) released a joint statement making the request and citing the Cambridge Analytica access to Facebook data of 50 million users.

Related: Markey Wants Investigation Into Facebook-Cambridge 'Bombshell'

“During our time leading the Commerce Committee, several questions about Facebook’s responsibilities and obligations to users have arisen even as the company’s reach and importance have grown. As a result, we have decided to ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before our committee," they said.

Facebook employees privately briefed Commerce Committee staffers on what the legislators were billing as only the "most recent controversy."

The did not say when they would hold a hearing and invite Zuckerberg's testimony, beyond saying it would be in the "coming weeks," and that they would work with Zuckerberg and Facebook to find a suitable date.

But they were clearly unhappy with the company. "[W]e believe Mr. Zuckerberg’s testimony is necessary to gain a better understanding of how the company plans to restore lost trust, safeguard users’ data, and end a troubling series of belated responses to serious problems."

They did point out that Facebook has yet to provide written information about the controversy, with a March 29 deadline looming.

It might make sense to double up with the House E&C for a daylong affair.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.