(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has decided that he’ll need to testify before U.S. lawmakers in the coming weeks to answer a drumbeat of Congressional questions over how the company handles user information, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The social network has not yet outlined concrete plans for what Zuckerberg will say or when he will appear, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing internal planning.
Zuckerberg has been the subject of withering criticism from lawmakers from both major U.S. political parties, as well as members of the U.K. Parliament, amid signs that Facebook has failed to protect user privacy. Newspaper reports this month said an advertising-data firm obtained information on more than 50 million Facebook users without their consent, and then lied about deleting it. The revelations have prompted some people to delete their Facebook accounts and heightened concern that the social network will lose advertisers and be subject to tighter regulation. It’s also fueled a 16 percent decline in the stock.
“While this will not be a pleasant experience for Zuckerberg and his team going in front of Congress, it is a necessary smart strategic step,” Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights, wrote in a research report. Heading to Washington is “another step in the right direction for Facebook to try to calm the public, user and regulatory choppy waters in this data leak situation,” Ives wrote.
Facebook shares fell 2.8 percent to $155.66 as of 1:20 p.m. Tuesday in New York.
Legal officials from Facebook, Google and Twitter -- rather than CEOs -- appeared before Congress last year to answer for how their platforms were manipulated to sway public opinion during the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company has received lawmakers’ invitations to appear before Congress and is talking with legislators. CNN earlier reported that Zuckerberg has come to terms with the fact that he’ll have to testify before Congress.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.