Facebook and the analytics company that worked with Donald Trump’s election team are coming under mounting pressure, with calls for investigations and hearings to explain a vast data breach that affected tens of millions of people. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, called for the company to be “thoroughly investigated” and said Facebook must answer questions about how it came to provide private user information to an academic with links to Russia. In Britain, the head of the parliamentary committee investigating fake news accused both companies of misleading MPs, while the Conservative MP Damian Collins said he would call the heads of both companies, Alexander Nix and Mark Zuckerberg, to give testimony. No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun any more, writes Ellie Mae O’Hagan, while Olivia Solon says the breach will make Facebook and other social media companies even more secretive.
Cambridge Analytica – owned by Robert Mercer and formerly headed by the sometime Trump adviser Steve Bannon – was suspended pending further information by Facebook on Friday amid allegations it gathered personal details from more than 50 million users without their consent. The whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, 28, who worked with an academic at Cambridge University to obtain the data, explained how it was used to build a software program to predict and influence voters’ choices.