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Facebook's data crisis deepens as questions mount

Facebook is facing a crescendo of questions about how user data was harvested for political purposes, and for a secon...

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 8:55 PM
Updated: Mar 20, 2018 8:55 PM

Facebook is facing a crescendo of questions about how user data was harvested for political purposes, and for a second day investors dumped its stock over the risk the scandal poses to its business.

Some U.S. lawmakers are calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. British members of Parliament are summoning Zuckerberg too. But for now he is remaining silent about the uproar.

Investors are taking the matter seriously. Facebook stock had fallen about 5% for the day as of midday Tuesday, compounding a nearly 7% decline the day before. More than $50 billion has been wiped off Facebook's market value this week.

The scandal erupted over the weekend when The New York Times and UK media reported that Cambridge Analytica tried to influence American voters using information improperly gleaned from 50 million Facebook users.

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, but the ensuing controversy has seriously hurt the brands of both companies.

There's even a swell of search interest in "how to delete your Facebook account," although experts doubt Facebook will actually lose many users as a result.

In the wake of the damning stories, there may be multiple government investigations into Facebook's privacy practices.

The US Federal Trade Commission declined to comment on a Bloomberg report that it is investigating Facebook but said in a statement it is "aware" of the issues that have been raised.

"We take any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously," it added, referring to the promises of privacy companies make to their users.

On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley called the Facebook breach a "serious issue."

Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, warned that if Facebook won't police themselves, "we will."

Later in the day, a Facebook spokesman said the company will brief multiple congressional committees this week.

The company is also holding a staff meeting on Tuesday to address questions about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the company's policies on data protection, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

The questions of data privacy thrown up by the scandal strike at the heart of Facebook's business, which relies on more than 1.4 billion users engaging with the platform each day.

Every time they do, they share a bit of information about themselves: what they like, who their friends are, what they want to watch. That data is the product Facebook sells to advertisers who want to target specific customers.

If the Cambridge Analytica scandal leads to tougher data protection regulations -- as some policymakers are demanding -- or puts people off sharing as much about themselves online, that could hurt Facebook's revenue, and that of all social media platforms. (Google stock was also down on Tuesday, though not nearly as sharply as Facebook.)

"What matters for this stock, at this time, are the headlines," wrote analysts at Macquarie Capital.

Related: Facebook's Cambridge Analytica auditors stand down at UK request

Cambridge Analytica is also coming under government and public pressure. The London-based data analysis firm worked on President Donald Trump's campaign.

Facebook says the user data in question was initially properly gathered by a psychology professor, who then passed it to Cambridge Analytica. That breached Facebook's rules.

Cambridge Analytica says it deleted all the data in 2015 when it learned that Facebook rules had been broken. But a former contractor, Christopher Wylie, disputes that.

The company has agreed to an inspection by Facebook-hired auditors, Facebook said Monday.

Meanwhile, UK data protection officials are seeking a warrant to enter Cambridge Analytica's offices in London to inspect its servers and systems. They are also examining Facebook's response to the unauthorized use of its data.

An undercover TV report turned up the heat even more on Monday. It suggested that Cambridge Analytica was prepared to consider using bribes and entrapment to create videos for clients it could then post to the internet to sway voters.

Cambridge Analytica says it does not engage in bribery or entrapment and says the Channel 4 News report was a misrepresentation of how the company conducts its business.

More bad news could emerge later Tuesday. Channel 4 News will broadcast a new report at 3 p.m. ET on Cambridge Analytica's work in the United States.

Related: What you need to know about Facebook's data debacle

In a statement on Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica says it has been cooperating with the UK Information Commissioner's office on a number of matters, including the Facebook data, since early 2017 and offered to share "all the information it has asked for."

The European Union parliament has also said it will investigate.

"Only dictatorships impede social networks or block them, but a democracy must provide social networks with rules that prevent them from using citizens' private data against their will," said European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

"This is why we ... have to be very strict, understand what happened, how a company that works with Facebook has used personal information for private interests, then we need to intervene. We need rules for this."

-- CNN's Dylan Byers, Sherisse Pham, Nelli Black, Carol Jordan, Lindsay Isaac, Simon Cullen and Nada Bashir contributed to this article.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115763

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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