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Facebook ‘concealed the truth’ of what it knew about Cambridge Analytica, lawmaker claims

  • "I think Facebook concealed the truth from us," Ian Lucas, member of parliament representing the opposition Labour Party, said.
  • Facebook has said it was aware of the sharing of user data with Cambridge Analytica in 2015 and that 87 million people may have been affected.
  • Investors mostly shrugged off news of Facebook's data woes, with the firm's stock rallying after it reported blowout earnings the previous day.
Chesnot | Getty Images

Facebook misled British lawmakers about what it knew about the data shared with Cambridge Analytica, a British lawmaker said Thursday.

In February, Simon Milner, who was Facebook's U.K. head of policy at the time, told officials that Cambridge Analytica did not have any Facebook data.

"I think Facebook concealed the truth from us in February," Ian Lucas, member of parliament (MP) representing the opposition Labour Party, told Mike Schroepfer, the social network's CTO, at a parliamentary hearing on fake news.

Schroepfer said that he could not vouch for Milner, but that what was said at the time was accurate.

"It was accurate because we didn't think Cambridge Analytica had data and we had not given them data," Schroepfer said. "So the problem that has come up since then is the idea that they still retain data which, to this day, I still have not had eyes on a single piece of data there so I don't know for sure. But if this is true and they do have the data, this is the problem we have today."

Facebook has said it was aware of the sharing of user data with Cambridge Analytica in 2015 and that 87 million people may have been affected by the leak. It has been notifying users of whether their data was shared.

The allegations against Cambridge Analytica have heightened concerns over whether the data of Facebook users was then used to try and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the U.K.'s referendumto leave the European Union, which it denies. The company worked for the Donald Trump campaign briefly after switching from Ted Cruz when the latter pulled out of the race.

Cambridge Analytica's former CEO, Alexander Nix, was caught on camera boasting that the firm ran Trump's digital campaign — the company holds that Nix's comments were taken out of context.

'It hurts when we make mistakes'

Facebook has been surrounded in controversy over the way it treats users' data since reports of the scandal first emerged in March.

In a wild back-and-forth exchange, Lucas pressed Schroepfer on why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would not appear before British MPs.

"I understand, he has been getting requests from all over the world to come talk about this," Schroepfer said. "He is trying to dedicate his time in the office to solve these problems to get to the heart of it."

Zuckerberg answered to U.S. lawmakers earlier this month, but has denied requests to face questions in the U.K.

Lucas questioned whether Facebook had integrity, to which the executive responded: "It hurts when we make mistakes. It hurts when people abuse our platform. We are human and make mistakes. I wouldn't want to work at a company that I didn't believe had integrity."

Investors mostly shrugged off news of Facebook's data woes Thursday, with the firm's stock rallying after it reported blowout earnings the previous day.