Regulators have launched a probe into Facebook’s purported misuse of private user data and investors continued to pummel the company’s shares — but Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg remained quiet and out of public view on Tuesday.
The same is true for Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg — who’s done anything but “lean in” lately.
At the same time, US lawmakers and officials in London are demanding the 33-year-old CEO testify before their respective bodies and explain how 50 million users had their private Facebook info hoovered up and utilized by Cambridge Analytica to assist sway the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook shares slipped another 2.6 % on Tuesday — plus another 1 % in after-hours trading, to $168.15, leaving them down 10 % in the two trading days since the news broke.
In recent days, both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have called for Zuckerberg to testify, while officials in Britain’s Parliament and in the European Union have also demanded the tech mogul speak to them.
“You have a product which has been designed without a lock or without an alarm, and big surprise, some of the bad guys has gotten in,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Federal Trade Commission probe will no doubt center on whether the social network violated a consent decree it agreed to in 2011.
Despite the uproar, Zuckerberg is out of sight — and hasn’t even updated his Facebook profile since March 2.
At an all-staff meeting Tuesday afternoon, neither he nor Sandberg made an appearance, leaving Facebook lawyer Paul Grewal to answer questions from employees.
In a statement, Facebook confirmed the pair were not at the meeting, but said they are “working around the clock” to gather all the facts pertaining to the problem.
“The whole company is outraged we were deceived,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying. “We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information and will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.”
Nonetheless, the deafening silence of Zuckerberg and Sandberg is only making things more difficult for Facebook and its investors, one analyst told The Post. “It’s made the situation worse and it’s been frustrating for the Street,” GBH Insights’ Daniel Ives said. “The more this continues to brew the louder the chatter is going to get.”
James Cakmak, an analyst for Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co., said Zuckerberg’s radio silence is understandable, noting there is small the CEO could say that would appease critics.
“Facebook has this uncanny capability to draw ire from both sides of the political spectrum as well as both sides of the Atlantic,” Cakmak said.
User backlash is growing as the #DeleteHashtag has been trending on Twitter.
Nevertheless, Cakmak said, “It’s still fabulously difficult to displace Facebook,” alluding to the flow of ad dollars.