Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to accept an invitation to testify before Congress on the user data privacy controversy. The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday demanded that the chief exec appear before them, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee also expects Zuckerberg to testify.

Lawmakers want to know how the social network seemingly permitted data from around 50 million users to be used to influence the US presidential election …

Reuters reports a source saying that Zuckerberg plans to attend, with apparent confirmation from the House, but Facebook has not yet confirmed this.

Facebook said the company had received invitations to testify before Congress and that they were talking to legislators […]

House Energy and Commerce Committee spokeswoman Elena Hernandez said “The committee is continuing to work with Facebook to determine a day and time for Mr. Zuckerberg to testify”.

Facebook staffers have already briefed congressional aides, but aides said that the meeting ‘left some 60 questions unanswered.’

Zuckerberg refused a similar invitation to testify before the UK parliament, saying that he would instead send senior deputies. The head of the parliamentary committee who asked Zuckerberg to attend described the refusal as ‘astonishing’ and asked him to reconsider.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the firm over what it described as “substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook,” and the company faces multiple lawsuits, the latest seeking class action status for collecting phone and message logs of Android users.

Facebook has taken some positive steps, including newspaper ads to promise action. Re/code notes that the social network is also making it easier to see what data it holds on users.

The social giant rolled out a new settings page for its mobile app on Wednesday, and also added a new dashboard called “Access Your Information” where users can find all the stuff they’ve handed over to Facebook, like photos and comments and messages, in one place.

The changes are cosmetic — Facebook isn’t the changing the way it collects your data. And all of this information was available to users before, it was just scattered and buried in different pages that made it tougher to collect.

I outlined yesterday the threat I believe the issue poses to Facebook.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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