From nearly 87 million users having their privacy breached, to foreign ad campaigns using the platform to allegedly “divide America,” Facebook has been making plenty of negative headlines of late.
As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gears up to testify to Congress this week, the well-known figure will be facing off with lawmakers, some of whom have been itching to confront him and others who have been receiving financial gain from his company.
Members of the House and Senate committees will be questioning the CEO about privacy protection and the violations that have rocked the company as of late.
According to a report last week by USA Today, some of these lawmakers are also the “biggest recipients of campaign contributions from Facebook employees directly and the political action committee funded by employees.”
The congressional panel that received the most contributions from the company is the House Energy and Commerce Committee, whose lawmakers are set to question Zuckerberg on Wednesday.
Of the 55 members on this committee, all but nine of them have received contributions by Facebook for the past decade, with the average Democrat receiving nearly $6,750 and the average Republican receiving $6,800.
And Republicans got nearly twice as much as their Democratic counterparts when it came to the House committee and monetary contributions.
An example can be seen in committee chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, who received $27,000, while Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., received only $7,000.
Both Walden and Pallone announced their committee would question Zuckerberg to shed light on what they call “critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online.”
The pair also said they appreciate Zuckerberg’s “willingness to testify.”
In regards to Facebook’s campaign gift, however, Republicans got a mere 33 percent and Democrats got 65 percent, adding to about $7 million worth of gifts.
A spokesman for Facebook responded to contribution inquiries by alluding to a statement made in April of 2017 to employees within the company and its “political engagement.”
In the statement, it was said the company wanted to maximize its ability to “develop relationships with elected officials … who share our vision of an open Internet.”
It also mentioned Facebook’s PAC and the fact that candidates will get support based on whether or not they are in line with the company’s policy positions and “whether the candidate holds a key committee or leadership position.”
Though the company is expected to receive a torrent of criticism for its mishandling of privacy issues, some lawmakers believe the questioning should be a sign to other tech companies around the world.
“I think we’re at a moment of reckoning,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “It’s really high noon for Facebook and the tech industry.”
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