In a stern warning to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said that any attempt by Facebook to influence India’s electoral process would not be tolerated.
The union minister’s comments came in wake of recent data breach reports by US firm Cambridge Analytica.
“Any attempt by Facebook to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated”, said the IT minister.
“Mr. Mark Zuckerberg you better know the observation of IT Minister of India, if any data theft of Indians is done with the collusion of FB systems, it will not be tolerated. We have got stringent powers in the IT Act including summoning you in India”, Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Facebook has lost $60 billion of its stock market value over the last two days.
The concerns infected fellow social media company Twitter, which was down more than 10%. The fall came over investors’ worries regarding that its dealings with Cambridge Analytica might damage Facebook’s reputation, deter advertisers and invite restrictive regulation.
Meanwhile, US and European lawmakers have demanded an explanation of how Cambridge Analytica gained access to user data in 2014 and why Facebook failed to inform its users, raising broader industry questions about consumer privacy.
Facebook said it had been told by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the leading US consumer regulator, that it would receive a letter this week with questions about the data acquired by Cambridge Analytica. It said it had no indication of a formal investigation.
“The entire company is outraged we were deceived,” Facebook said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”
The FTC is reviewing whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree it reached with the authority over its privacy practices, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters.
If the FTC finds Facebook violated terms of the consent decree, it has the power to fine the company thousands of dollars a day per violation, which could add up to billions of dollars.
Facebook was also hit on Tuesday in a San Francisco court by the first of what could be many lawsuits by shareholders claiming to suffer losses because the company misled them about its ability to protect user data. The company could also soon face lawsuits on behalf of users whose personal information was exposed.
Facebook and its peers Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter already face a backlash from users and lawmakers over their role during the US presidential election by allowing the spread of false information that might have swayed voters toward Trump.
(With inputs from Reuters)