“Sure looks like [Facebook CEO] Zuckerberg lied to Congress,” one Democratic lawmaker recently tweeted, igniting a new PR dilemma for the social media behemoth that’s recently been engulfed in a shady data scandal. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary antitrust committee, called for an investigation into Facebook’s far-reaching data partnerships that could have seen the information of everyday users get exposed to certain companies.
Rep. Cicilline’s incendiary tweet for Facebook appeared to have been spawned by a recent report from the New York Times that claimed certain device makers were getting special access to large sums of data collected by Facebook. The report seems to contradict Zuckerberg’s earlier testimony that Facebook users would have complete control over which companies gained access to their lucrative data, which can be leveraged for marketing purposes.
According to the Times, Facebook struck a series of agreements with phone and other device makers to let them tap right into user’s personal information for business purposes. The social media giant’s efforts have scooped up at least 60 partners so far, including fellow industry titans like Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung. Facebook is currently in hot water over whether or not the company has been complying with federal privacy regulations, and the previously unreported partnerships with these companies could present serious legal troubles for the social media giant.
As of now, most of the partnerships are still in effect, though increased scrutiny from media outlets, congressional regulators, and the broader public have caused Facebook to relatively slow their efforts. The privacy concerns stemming from Facebook usage briefly dominated global headlines, though the company’s bottom line and stock value remained largely unaffected. According to reporting by the Financial Times, Facebook and other social media stocks have essentially recovered in full from the data scandals that temporarily saw them lose billions in valuation.
That doesn’t mean the world’s largest social media network has escaped from its data nightmares entirely unscathed, however. Recent reports by Pew Research note that younger users are fleeing Facebook en masse, for instance, in what could be a public sign of concern over the company’s increasingly critiqued data practices. While Pew’s study notes that younger people in particular are still infatuated with social media channels in particular, Facebook’s decline amongst the next generation could be exacerbated by future investigations like those Rep. Cicilline are calling for.