WASHINGTON — Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, will testify before Congress next week on the company’s handling of sensitive user data, lawmakers said on Wednesday.
Mr. Zuckerberg will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11. He is also expected to appear before at least one Senate committee next week.
It will be Mr. Zuckerberg’s first appearance before lawmakers, and it comes after disclosures that personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users was improperly harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm connected to President Trump that used the data to target voters in the 2016 election.
“This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues,” said Representatives Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon, and Frank Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey, of the House committee. “We appreciate Mr. Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify before the committee.”
The hearing is sure to be a spectacle, drawing intense public interest because of Mr. Zuckerberg’s notoriety and because of the numerous issues facing the company. Few executives draw the same interest as Mr. Zuckerberg, the 33-year-old billionaire founder of Facebook, who has connected 2 billion people to the platform he created as a college student.
Facebook has faced a high level of scrutiny over its handling of user data and is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission on suspicion of violating an agreement in 2011 to protect its users’ privacy. The company’s stock is down sharply since The New York Times and The Observer of London reported on how Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired users’ data.
But the company’s problems stretch back much further, with investigations into how Russian actors infiltrated Facebook’s platform by placing ads and posts to disrupt the 2016 American presidential election. At the time, Mr. Zuckerberg dismissed the idea of foreign interference on his platform as a “crazy idea.”
Since then, the company has been brought into investigations by law enforcement and Congressional committees on Russian interference, and the company has acknowledged that its platform was used by agents to influence voters.