For Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the timing could hardly have been worse. Just as he announced on Wednesday that he would testify to a US Congressional committee regarding the company’s use and protection of data than Facebook had to admit that the total number of users whose data may have been improperly shared was not the 50 million originally estimated but up to 87 million.
Earlier today, Australian regulators launched their own probe into the allegations, and the British Parliament is conducting its own hearings, which Mr Zuckerberg has declined to attend.
The issue of Facebook data protection is the most visible of the troubles crowding in on the tech sector, in particular the so-called FANG companies – the giants Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google– for whom the legislative and regulatory climate is becoming distinctly cooler.
Each has specific issues to deal with. Google has been heavily criticised, not least by some of its own employees, for agreeing to work for the Pentagon on an artificial intelligence (AI) project to analyse images collected by unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones”.
Amazon has just had four advertisements for electronic devices banned by UK regulators, allegedly for misleading consumers as to the scale of the savings on offer.
Netflix has come under fire from anti-Israel campaigners after distributing a political thriller made in that country.