Revelations that Facebook lost control of 50 million user profiles has already angered lawmakers in the US and UK. Now, the US Federal Trade Commission is looking into it too.
The FTC is probing whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 consent decree, according to reports Tuesday from Bloomberg News and The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the matter. The decree .
“We remain strongly committed to protecting people’s information,” Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said in a statement. “We appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have.”
Representatives from the FTC didn’t immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.
The FTC probe represents the largest legal and political threat Facebook faces in reaction to the widening scandal over mishandled user data. According to, a data mining firm called Cambridge Analytica improperly received information from more than 50 million user profiles from Aleksandr Kogan, a University of Cambridge lecturer who created an app that ostensibly offered personality predictions. Instead, it was apparently used to leak information about millions of people, including their location, likes and information on their friends.
The scandal has been exacerbated by Facebook itself, which attempted to get ahead of the news by putting out a notice about the data leak last Friday and. The company argued, among other things, that it had been lied to by Cambridge Analytica and Kogan. As of Tuesday morning, neither CEO Mark Zuckerberg nor COO Sheryl Sandberg has publicly discussed the issue in official statements or in missives to Facebook’s more than 2 billion monthly active users.
Meanwhile, pressure from lawmakers in the UK and US is ramping up. Representatives on both sides of the Atlantic, and possibly Zuckerberg himself, over the scandal.
“Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before the Senate Judiciary,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, tweeted on Saturday shortly after the scandal broke. “They need to take responsibility for what’s going on.”
First published March 20 at 8:39 a.m. PT.
Update at 9:28 a.m. PT: Adds background.
Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech’s role in providing new kinds of accessibility.
CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET’s newsstand edition.