There at least two congressmen set to press Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during a congressional hearing on April 11 who also own stock in his company, Roll Call reported Wednesday.
Both Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Joseph Kennedy III of Massachusetts have a financial stake in Facebook and are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is set to preside over Zuckerberg’s testimony.
The tech executive will likely face stern questioning over the company’s management, or exploitation, of user data and how it helps prevent would-be menaces from manipulating the platform in harmful, unintended ways. Concerns of the sort have spiked in recent weeks — building off of a professed culpability that Facebook indirectly helped adversaries meddle in the 2016 election.
Facebook disclosed in March it was suspending a data analytics firm that worked with President Donald Trump’s campaign team because the partnered group didn’t abide by its purchased data usage rules. It also failed to delete the information — traits and online tendencies — after Facebook realized the situation and told it to do so. There were also other incidents that made it seem like Facebook is a company that doesn’t care about the privacy of the people who frequent the site, something that the tech giant adamantly denies.
Zuckerberg recently said that engineers for the company often don’t have much oversight, and are afforded a considerable amount of autonomy. (RELATED: Mark Zuckerberg Forced To Explain Fellow Exec’s Memo That Implies Platform-Caused Deaths May Ultimately Be Worth It)
And because of these actions and revelations, the aforementioned Congressmen will have a chance to pepper Zuckerberg with interrogative inquiries. But if an $80,000 total investment in Facebook for Kennedy and at least $15,000 for Schrader — numbers reported on by Roll Call — is enough to compromise the integrity of their questioning isn’t clear, and may never be definitive.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to the office of Kennedy, Schrader and the House Energy and Commerce Committee for comment, specifically if there is a potential conflict of interest. None have responded in time of publication, but the article will be reflected if and when they do.
Similar financial relationships have been a point of contention before, but more recently in the inverse. Facebook, as well as Google, donated thousands of dollars to several congressmen they were set to testify in front of last year. In fact, the biggest U.S. tech companies spent record amounts for government lobbying efforts in 2017.
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