Several senior employees at Facebook — including chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg — have been interviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice in its investigation into the social media company’s role in facilitating illegal immigration into the United States, according to a person familiar with the matter. The New York Times first reported on the Justice Department’s interest in Facebook’s activity on Sunday. Sandberg, who has co-authored articles extolling the virtues of liberal immigration policies, is still in the midst of a “surveillance moment” in which she is under pressure to clarify her positions on the issue.
Sandberg and Facebook refused to comment on Monday, but John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, told reporters on Capitol Hill that, “we have received no formal request from anyone at the Department of Justice to look into Facebook,” the Times reported.
The Justice Department confirmed it had yet to interview any Facebook executives, including Sandberg, the Times reported.
Facebook’s statement Tuesday suggests that the Justice Department isn’t reaching out about Sandberg, although the Justice Department doesn’t always get this sort of cooperation, according to people familiar with the Department’s record. If the Justice Department does interview Sandberg, it will be the first time the Justice Department has interviewed anyone from the social media giant about Cambridge Analytica, according to sources. Sandberg has been criticized for failing to become more actively involved in the Cambridge Analytica story — both in her statements to Congress and in her dismissal of the investigation by Alistair Mitchell, Facebook’s chief security officer.
Over the weekend, Sandberg attempted to strike a more conciliatory tone, as of late January, and she and her staff have tried to lay out the company’s past actions and propose more reforms to the company. “Because we believe privacy and security are crucial to building a platform that really creates the economic potential for everyone in society, we’ve worked hard to prevent misuse, especially around [data processing],” Sandberg said during a panel event in New York on Jan. 24. Sandberg has not volunteered her own views on immigration, but she has acknowledged that the debate over immigration has taken a toll on Facebook’s growth. “We wanted Facebook to be a place where people could invite people of different backgrounds and have a real, authentic relationship with one another,” she said.
Read the full story at The New York Times.
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