Rebekah Mercer Asked Facebook For An Independent Investigation Into Cambridge Analytica


A well-connected tech investor met with Facebook senior management late final month on behalf of billionaire Republican donor Rebekah Mercer to propose an independent investigation into Cambridge Analytica, data collection, and the 2016 election, BuzzFeed News has learned.

The investor, Matt Michelsen, and a Facebook source confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the assembly took dwelling. According to Michelsen, Facebook leadership seemed open to the opportunity of an external inquiry — and to assembly in person with Mercer — during the hour-long, March 20 assembly, but changed its attitude suddenly later that week.

News that Facebook had initially seemed to consider, but then declined to pursue Mercer’s suggestion of an independent investigation into the way the controversial data analytics firm funded by Mercer’s father, Robert, used its platform, provides recent insight into the social giant’s response to the ongoing crisis that has shaken the faith of the public and investors.

According to Michelsen, it also reflects a firm belief by both Mercers that they did nothing wrong in funding Cambridge Analytica, a fact they believe an external investigation would confirm.

The Facebook source downplayed the assembly’s significance, saying that it was largely pro forma and granted because of Michelsen’s relationship with one of the people in the assembly.

Rebekah Mercer did not comment for this sage.

According to his LinkedIn account, Michelsen is an adviser to venture funds and tech firms including 8VC and Palantir. He told BuzzFeed News he has close relationships with senior managers at Facebook, though he did not disclose who was in the assembly.

Michelsen and his family were skiing in Colorado with Mercer and her family when news broke that Facebook had failed to reveal Cambridge Analytica’s improper utilize of data approximately tens of millions of Americans. Michelsen told Buzzfeed News he nick the trip short to wing to San Francisco to meet with senior managers at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. Mercer had asked him to represent her position and request an independent investigation.

“I left the assembly with the notion that Rebekah was going to be able to meet with senior managers and figure out what happened,” Michelsen said.

But, according to Michelsen, on March 23 he received a call from a senior manager who had not been present at the assembly to inform him that Facebook would not meet with Mercer.

Facebook is currently being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission, as well as officials in the United Kingdom and Australia. Its CEO, notice Zuckerberg, is testifying Tuesday and Wednesday before Congress. The company also conducted its own, internal investigation into the scope and nature of the improper data access, which it first discovered in 2015.

The Mercer family, major donors to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and funders of a variety of right-wing concerns, rarely speak to the press.

Joe Bernstein is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in recent York. Bernstein reports on and writes approximately the gaming industry and web culture.

Contact Joseph Bernstein at joe.bernstein@buzzfeed.com.

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