Zuckerberg takes out ads in UK newspapers to apologise for data scandal

26 Mar 2018

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Image: catwalker/Shutterstock

Beleaguered Facebook CEO admits breach of trust, promises action.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken out full-page ads in major UK newspapers to apologise for the data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

At the heart of the matter is how an estimated 50m Facebook users became part of a dataset gathered using a third-party app that in turn is said to have played a role in enabling Cambridge Analytica to tip public sentiment in both the US elections and the Brexit referendum of 2016.

‘This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time’

Future Human

Zuckerberg said Facebook could have done more to stop users’ data being exploited in this fashion.

In the ad, Zuckerberg said a quiz developed by university research “leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014”.

He continued: “This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The full-page ad appeared in broadsheets and tabloids, including the Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Express.

Zuckerberg said that Facebook has already changed its rules so that no such breach could occur again.

“We’re also investigating every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others,” he stated.

“And, when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.”

In related news, Facebook has responded to reports claiming it has been logging people’s call and SMS history without permission.

It said this is not the case and that it is an opt-in feature.

“Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android,” the company said.

“This helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about, and provides you with a better experience across Facebook. People have to expressly agree to use this feature. If, at any time, they no longer wish to use this feature, they can turn it off in settings, or here for Facebook Lite users, and all previously shared call and text history shared via that app is deleted. While we receive certain permissions from Android, uploading this information has always been opt-in only.”

Elon Musk deactivates Tesla and SpaceX pages

Meanwhile, the backlash against Facebook continues.

At the weekend, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had all the official Facebook pages for his companies deleted.

It began with Musk poking fun at audio brand Sonos for stating that it would suspend advertising on Facebook for one week.

When challenged by Twitter users to have his own companies’ pages deleted, he did so within minutes on Friday (23 March).

Between them, both pages had more than 5m followers on Facebook before deactivation.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Image: catwalker/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years