Cambridge Analytica, the British firm at the centre of a major data scandal rocking Facebook, has suspended its chief executive as lawmakers demanded answers from the social media giant over the breach.
Alexander Nix will stand aside pending an investigation into boasts he made to an undercover reporter about entrapping politicians and operating shadowy front companies “and other allegations”, the company board said.
“In the view of the Board, Mr. Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” the company said in a statement.
Cambridge Analytica has denied claims it harvested data from up to 50 million Facebook users as part of its work for US President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
But the row has plunged Facebook into a major scandal, facing investigations on both sides of the Atlantic over its use of personal data, while its share price has been hit.
A British parliamentary committee called on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg yesterday to personally explain to them what happened with “this catastrophic failure of process.”
Committee chairman Damian Collins, who is leading an investigation into fake news, said officials at the firm had “consistently understated” the risk of data being taken from users without consent.
Mr. Zuckerberg has also been invited to address the European Parliament, its president Antonio Tajani said.
“Facebook needs to clarify before the representatives of 500 million Europeans that personal data is not being used to manipulate democracy,” he tweeted.
The parliament and the European Commission, the 28-nation EU executive, have already called for an urgent investigation into the scandal.
US lawmakers have also called on Mr. Zuckerberg to appear before Congress, along with the chief executives of Twitter and Google.