In a sign of broadening scrutiny into Facebook’s sharing of data with UK-based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, federal agencies have joined the investigation.
According to the Washington Post, FBI, SEC and Federal Trade Commission representatives have joined the Department of Justice investigation into its inquiry of the two companies sharing information – personal information – of some 71 million Americans.
For context, Facebook discovered in 2015 that Cambridge Analytica had obtained Facebook data to create voter profiles. The same firm has notably worked for the Trump campaign. However, Facebook did not disclose any part of those details to the public until March, just prior to news reports that publicized the matter.
Federal investigators are now looking to establish what Facebook learned of three years ago when it first discovered Cambridge Analytica’s data use and why it did not disclose this information earlier to its users and investors.
“We are cooperating with officials in the U.S., U.K. and beyond,” said Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld, confirming the company had received questions from federal agencies and that it was cooperating and sharing information in other ways. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged to continue our assistance as their work continues.”
“The fact that the Justice Department, the FBI, the SEC and the FTC are sitting down together does raise serious concerns,” said David Vladeck, former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, adding that the direct involvement of a multitude of agencies raises “all sorts of red flags.”
In pre-market trading on Tuesday, Facebook shares fell 1.45 percent following the Washington Post report.
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