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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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 452268

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin938131490
Ramsey40370746
Dakota33353349
Anoka31193366
Washington20363231
Stearns17995189
St. Louis13857245
Scott1209197
Wright11723106
Olmsted1068375
Sherburne825766
Carver700138
Clay655582
Rice618070
Kandiyohi556572
Blue Earth545933
Crow Wing487778
Otter Tail460967
Chisago456436
Benton422287
Winona393048
Douglas377266
Nobles373946
Mower370829
Goodhue352661
Polk330559
McLeod326747
Beltrami314048
Morrison313545
Lyon304138
Becker288039
Itasca286443
Isanti284242
Carlton282543
Steele278110
Pine269214
Freeborn251523
Todd232630
Nicollet227537
Brown216934
Mille Lacs214945
Le Sueur212816
Cass209424
Meeker200933
Waseca191916
Wabasha17343
Martin171426
Roseau166217
Hubbard150138
Redwood140827
Houston139714
Renville137940
Dodge13714
Chippewa132032
Cottonwood128418
Fillmore12576
Wadena120517
Rock111212
Aitkin109233
Sibley10917
Faribault108316
Watonwan10688
Pennington100716
Kanabec98818
Pipestone95923
Yellow Medicine94216
Murray9056
Jackson87110
Swift84318
Pope7435
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66015
Lac qui Parle65716
Wilkin6309
Koochiching60210
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4663
Unassigned43768
Grant4358
Norman4248
Mahnomen4147
Kittson37320
Red Lake3194
Traverse2583
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309989

Reported Deaths: 4424
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46587464
Linn17979279
Scott15787171
Black Hawk14037243
Woodbury13093181
Johnson1224652
Dubuque11535159
Pottawattamie9111115
Dallas905972
Story877838
Webster471577
Cerro Gordo471472
Sioux459157
Clinton456167
Warren456139
Marshall429862
Buena Vista396130
Muscatine394978
Des Moines390043
Plymouth352470
Wapello348498
Jasper330159
Lee322632
Marion308152
Jones274250
Henry266131
Carroll258034
Bremer249348
Crawford233524
Boone222017
Washington222033
Benton212250
Mahaska197237
Jackson194331
Tama189959
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware175236
Clay171421
Wright166424
Fayette165024
Hamilton162030
Buchanan161624
Winneshiek159720
Harrison157962
Hardin156730
Cedar155419
Clayton153649
Butler150824
Page146315
Floyd140836
Cherokee139927
Mills138417
Lyon137333
Poweshiek134524
Hancock131424
Allamakee130230
Iowa127422
Calhoun12339
Madison123210
Grundy122128
Jefferson122025
Winnebago121529
Mitchell116637
Louisa115730
Cass114743
Chickasaw113512
Appanoose112040
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union110723
Humboldt106419
Shelby104727
Guthrie104024
Franklin103218
Unassigned10050
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88024
Keokuk86126
Howard85019
Monroe81919
Clarke8087
Pocahontas78111
Ida75830
Davis70021
Greene6977
Adair69520
Monona67118
Lucas66410
Osceola64611
Worth6154
Taylor5989
Fremont5246
Van Buren50115
Decatur4954
Ringgold44811
Audubon4208
Wayne41821
Adams2983
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