Zuckerberg admits Facebook’s mistakes


CEO stops short of apologizing

Associated Press

NEW YORK

Breaking five days of silence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect user data in light of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm.

Zuckerberg said Wednesday that Facebook has a “responsibility” to protect its users’ data and if it fails, “we don’t deserve to serve you.”

But Zuckerberg stopped short of apologizing.

And he wrote “what happened” instead of “what we did,” leaving Facebook one step removed from responsibility.

Richard Levick, chairman of the crisis-management firm Levick, gave Zuckerberg’s response a “B-” grade, in part because of how late it came.

Zuckerberg said he is willing to testify before Congress to answer questions about the privacy scandal engulfing his company.

But he suggested other executives might be better qualified to field questions from lawmakers.

Zuckerberg told CNN late Wednesday that he will bow to demands for him to appear before Congress if it’s “the right thing to do.” He added, however, that Facebook has other executives whose jobs are focused on certain areas that put them in a better position to give lawmakers the information they are seeking.

Zuckerberg and Facebook’s No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, had been quiet since news broke Friday that Cambridge Analytica may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections. Cambridge’s clients included Donald Trump’s general-election campaign.

Facebook shares have dropped some 8 percent, lopping about $46 billion off the company’s market value, since the revelations were first published.

Even before the scandal broke, Facebook has already taken the most important steps to prevent a recurrence, Zuckerberg said. For example, in 2014, it reduced access outside apps had to user data. However, some of the measures didn’t take effect until a year later, allowing Cambridge to access the data in the intervening months.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that there is more to do.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Zuckerberg said it will ban developers who don’t agree to an audit. An app’s developer will no longer have access to data from people who haven’t used that app in three months. Data also will be generally limited to user names, profile photos and email, unless the developer signs a contract with Facebook and gets user approval.

In a separate post, Face-book said it will inform people whose data was misused by apps. Facebook first learned of this breach of privacy more than two years ago but hadn’t mentioned it publicly until Friday.

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