The news that Facebook offered to partners until just recently a form of the friend-scraping capability it claimed to have discontinued back in 2014 has, within hours, brought rebuke and a call to action from the House of Representatives.
“It’s deeply concerning that Facebook continues to withhold critical details about the information it has and shares with others. This is just the latest example of Facebook only coming forward when forced to do so by a media outlet,” reads a statement from Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
Indeed, the question of whether and how a user’s friends’ data was being shared with third parties was brought up during Zuckerberg’s testimony. It is, after all, likely that this is the vector by which millions of users’ data was exfiltrated by agents both malicious and benign.
In the same line of thinking as “don’t talk to the cops,” the CEO was almost certainly instructed not to volunteer any disadvantageous information unless directly asked. Therefore, it should surprise no one that he failed to mention that there existed until quite recently a similar program allowing third parties to collect data on unsuspecting friends.
It’s telling of Facebook’s current predicament that before they can adequately answer some questions, even more arise.
“Our Committee is also still waiting for a lot of answers from Facebook to questions Mr. Zuckerberg could not or would not answer at our hearing,” Pallone said.
He also called for the FTC to get involved: “The Federal Trade Commission must conduct a full review to determine if the consent decree was violated.” I’ve asked if the Representative will be appealing to the FTC directly, and/or whether any existing investigation (the FTC is quiet about these) will be affected.
Pallone is just one among hundreds of senators and representatives, but he is one of the crew responsible for the pending Congressional Review Act rollback of the FCC’s new, weaker net neutrality rules. So it’s not a surprise to see him weigh in quickly on another tech issue. Here’s hoping it helps keep Facebook accountable.