Facebook's data privacy scandal has stirred an exodus

It started with the #DeleteFacebook hashtag. Now companies are yanking their Facebook pages or pulling ads following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
3 min read

The Twitter hashtag #DeleteFacebook pretty much sums up the sentiment stirring around the social network.

Cambridge Analytica name and logo on a smartphone screen, in front of the Facebook logo.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, several companies are distancing themselves from Facebook.


Some high-profile companies and individuals  -- from Elon Musk to Cher -- are pulling back from Facebook following revelations that user data from millions of Facebook users was misused by Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company affiliated with the Donald Trump presidential campaign, to try to influence the 2016 US presidential election. 

After several days of public uproar, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the incident, outlining his company's response and, briefly, saying he was sorry. Meanwhile, Congress wants Zuckerberg to appear in Washington, and the Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into the matter. The European Union also launched an investigation into Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

On Friday, a US House of Representatives committee urged Zuckerberg to personally testify at an upcoming hearing about Facebook's policies on user data. On Monday, the Senate judiciary committee said it has invited Zuckerberg, as well as the CEOs of Google and Twitter, to testify at a hearing on April 10.

Facebook has also faced legal threats. On Monday, Illinois' Cook County, which includes Chicago, filed a lawsuit against both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica alleging fraud. "Facebook is not a social media company; it is the largest data mining operation in existence," the complaint says. 

Neither Facebook nor Cambridge Analytica immediately replied to requests for comment.

Here are some of the companies and people, so far, who have distanced themselves from the social networking company:

  • Mozilla: The developer of the Firefox browser said it will no longer advertise on Facebook, and it has established a petition asking the social network to improve its privacy settings. Mozilla said it would consider returning if Facebook strengthens its privacy settings.
  • Tesla and SpaceX: Founder Elon Musk deleted the Facebook pages for Tesla and SpaceX after being asked to do so on Twitter
  • Sonos: The audio company is cutting off advertising to not just Facebook, but also Instagram (owned by Facebook), Google, YouTube and Twitter for a week. In addition, it'll "go dark" on its Facebook and Instagram accounts next week "in solidarity with those seeking to build a healthier, more consumer-friendly tech ecosystem," the company said in a blog post.
  • Commerzbank: The German bank said it will pull advertising from Facebook
  • Cher: The singer announced via Twitter that she's deleted her Facebook page, saying it was "VERY HARD 4 me."
  • Tim Berners-Lee: The inventor of the World Wide Web described the scandal as "a serious moment for the web's future." He tweeted, "I can imagine Mark Zuckerberg is devastated that his creation has been abused and misused."
  • Pep Boys: The auto parts retailer said it's suspending ads from Facebook "until the facts are out, there is clarity on outstanding investigations, and corrective actions have been taken," CMO Danielle Porto Mohn said in a statement.
Watch this: Elon Musk scraps SpaceX, Tesla pages on Facebook

First published March 23 at 6:12 p.m. PT.
Updated, March 26 at 2:17 p.m. PT: Adds comments from Tim Berners-Lee and Pep Boys, and news of a lawsuit from Illinois' Cook County.

CNET's Richard Nieva contributed to this report. 

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