Embattled Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has agreed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in the coming weeks as part of a hearing called by the panel’s new chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Mosseri’s new role indicates that Systrom plans to decline the Senate Intelligence Committee’s request to appear before it, but they are still hashing that out, according to a source close to the conversation.
Symons’ decisions could mean a heated confrontation between Instagram and the committee, but he may also benefit from the opening. Systrom’s bid to retain the popular social platform through a private sale is being stymied by various skeptics on Wall Street, who worry that now that Instagram is becoming a cross-promotional hub for the highly trafficked Facebook pages, it’s a recipe for financial disaster.
In the next few weeks, Schiff will seek to spotlight Instagram’s user growth and usage during the one-year anniversary of its merger with WhatsApp, a personal favorite of President Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly, according to the source.
Systrom is expected to argue that Instagram has not been at the center of Russian-backed election interference and help staunch Schiff’s oft-expressed suspicions about the merger by showing him the source and case law that supports their case for privacy rights.
In addition to Adler and Mosseri, the Republican and Democratic heads of the House Intelligence Committee will offer up their views of whether and to what extent Russian Internet trolls were acting on their behalf.
Schiff has been publicly sparring with the tech firms over whether and how to improve the security of its encrypted messaging platforms, and Systrom has reiterated his commitment to maintaining encryption, but he has also pushed back against suggestions that the app itself poses a threat to national security.
Facing open defiance from Silicon Valley, Schiff has repeatedly insisted that the data and technology it is using on its users is essential to the nation’s success.
Instagram launched on Feb. 27, 2007. The former brand manager joined Instagram in 2010. Last year Systrom, the company’s co-founder, announced that he had decided to leave Instagram and take an indefinite sabbatical while the company underwent leadership changes.
Although he has been hesitant to speak in detail about his plans for the brand, Systrom has made one media appearance with Business Insider to discuss a book about his experience working with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, his co-founder, through the WhatsApp acquisition, and the benefits of monetizing his app.
His successor, Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s newly appointed chief product officer, joined the company just a few weeks ago after more than a decade at Facebook.
Like Systrom, Mosseri was a big player behind the scenes, overseeing Zuckerberg’s social media empire, but he has only recently joined the company in public life.