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Facebook probably won’t send Zuckerberg or Sandberg to testify before US Congress, says source

Zuckerberg and Sandberg are expected to be on a conference call with investors and Wall Street analysts that same afternoon to discuss the company’s third-quarter results

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 October, 2017, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 October, 2017, 1:06pm

By John Shinal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg are unlikely to testify before Congress early next month, when Facebook will face a grilling on how Russia-based groups used the company’s ad-buying technology to influence the 2016 U.S. election, a source familiar with the situation told CNBC.

While the company hasn’t finalised who will represent Facebook at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on that date, it probably won’t be either of its top two executives, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a final decision has yet to be made.

Instead, Zuckerberg and Sandberg are expected to be on a conference call with investors and Wall Street analysts that afternoon to discuss the company’s third-quarter results, as is typical.

Facebook said Wednesday it will release its quarterly financial report and hold its usual earnings call after the close of U.S. stock markets on Wednesday, November 1.

That’s the same date the company -- along with online ad rivals Google and Twitter — has agreed to testify before the Senate committee on Russia’s election-meddling.

Facebook said last month that groups based in Russia spent roughly US$100,000 on more than 3,000 ads during the American Presidential campaign last year, and in the months afterward, to influence voters. Many of the ads highlighted divisive issues such as race and gun ownership and were targeted at key electoral battleground states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida, according to reports.

On Monday, the company turned the ads over to Congress and said that 10 million people may have seen them.

When asked who is likely to testify for the company before Congress, the source declined to name any Facebook executives and instead pointed to a statement made by Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

On September 27, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said it wasn’t important that Zuckerberg or another top Facebook executive show up for the hearing.

“I think it’s more important that we get the person who’s most capable of talking about the technical aspects of what they need to do to identify foreign money that may come in and what procedures, if any, need to be put in law that make sure elections are not intruded upon by foreign entities,” Burr was quoted as saying.

As a result, the executive who testifies will likely be someone technical, said the Facebook source. One possibility: Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, who wrote the blog post in September where Facebook first revealed the Russian spending on ads.

Read the original article at CNBC