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Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Mark Zuckerberg apologized on Wednesday evening for his company’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry this happened,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Zuckerberg’s comments reflected the first time he apologized following an uproar over how Facebook allowed third-party developers to access user data. The CEO and company founder undertook a rare media tour with a handful of outlets, including Verge sister site Recode, to explain the company’s perspective on a scandal that has consumed the company since Friday.

Earlier in the day, Zuckerberg wrote a Facebook post in which he said the company had made mistakes in its handling of the Cambridge Analytica data revelations. The company laid out a multipart plan designed to reduce the amount of data shared by users with outside developers, and said it would audit some developers who had access to large troves of data before earlier restrictions were implemented in 2014.

Zuckerberg spoke with CNN senior tech correspondent Laurie Segall, with the segment airing during Anderson Cooper 360.

The news came at a crucial moment for Facebook as it reels from the fallout of Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal.

Other highlights of Zuckerberg’s interviews:

  • He told multiple outlets that he would be willing to testify before Congress.
  • He said the company would notify everyone whose data was improperly used.
  • He told CNN he did not totally oppose regulation. “I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” he said. “There are things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see.”
  • He expressed regret for not investigating further when Cambridge Analytica’s deception had first come to light in 2015. “I think this was clearly a mistake in retrospect,” Zuckerberg told CNN. “We need to make sure we don’t make that mistake ever again.”
  • He expressed confidence Facebook could be protected from bad actors ahead of the midterm elections. “This isn’t rocket science. There’s a lot of hard work we have to do to make it harder for nation states like Russia to do election interference,” he told CNN. “But we can get in front of this.”
  • He told the New York Times that Facebook would double its security force this year, adding: “We’ll have more than 20,000 people working on security and community operations by the end of the year, I think we have about 15,000 now.”
  • He told the Times that the company had deployed unspecified new artificial intelligence to fight bad actors in the recent Alabama Senate election: “In last year, in 2017 with the special election in Alabama, we deployed some new A.I. tools to identify fake accounts and false news, and we found a significant number of Macedonian accounts that were trying to spread false news, and were able to eliminate those. And that, actually, is something I haven’t talked about publicly before, so you’re the first people I’m telling about that.”
  • He expressed regret for building a platform API that was vulnerable to abuse of the kind committed by Cambridge Analytica. “There was this values tension playing out between the value of data portability — being able to take your data and some social data, the ability to create new experiences — on one hand, and privacy on the other hand,” he told Recode. “I was maybe too idealistic on the side of data portability, that it would create more good experiences — and it created some — but I think what the clear feedback was from our community was that people value privacy a lot more.”
  • He told the Times that Facebook would investigate “thousands” of apps to determine whether they had abused their access to user data.
  • He further told the Times that a “meaningful” people had not deleted their accounts in the wake of the controversy: “I don’t think we’ve seen a meaningful number of people act on that, but, you know, it’s not good.

    I think it’s a clear signal that this is a major trust issue for people, and I understand that.

    And whether people delete their app over it or just don’t feel good about using Facebook, that’s a big issue that I think we have a responsibility to rectify.”

  • Asked about content moderation, he told this to Recode: “[The] thing is like, ‘Where’s the line on hate speech?’ I mean, who chose me to be the person that did that?,” Zuckerberg said. “I guess I have to, because of where we are now, but I’d rather not.”
  • Facebook didn’t announce all the new restrictions to the platform today, Zuckerberg told Wired: “There are probably 15 changes that we’re making to the platform to further restrict data, and I didn’t list them all, because a lot of them are kind of nuanced and hard to explain–so I kind of tried to paint in broad strokes what the issues are, which were first, going forward, making sure developers can’t get access to this kind of data.”

Facebook is being investigated by New York and Massachusetts attorneys general over Cambridge Analytica scandal

New York and Massachusetts attorneys general are demanding that Facebook hand over information about how Cambridge Analytica used its data. They announced a joint investigation today following reports over the weekend that Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired data on 50 million Facebook users, which it used as part of President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

According to The New York Times and The Observer, the co-founder of Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie, led an initiative starting in 2014 to help political campaigns profile voters. As part of the project, the company harvested data from Facebook through a third-party quiz app.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts announced a joint investigation today.

As part of the investigation, they’re requesting all terms of use, privacy policy, and all other notifications Facebook users have received about data collection dating from 2013 to now, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The attorneys general are also looking for Facebook to show any requests it made to Cambridge Analytica asking it to delete Facebook user data.

Cambridge Analytica, which is partly owned by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, played a role in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and the connection raises continued concerns over the influence Facebook had in the election.

“Consumers have a right to know how their information is used — and companies like Facebook have a fundamental responsibility to protect their users’ personal information,” Eric Schneiderman said in a statement to The Verge, “Today’s demand letter is the first step in our joint investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.”

He added, “New Yorkers deserve answers, and if any company or individual violated the law, we will hold them accountable.”

Maura Healey told The Verge, “As attorney general, my job is to protect consumers in Massachusetts.

Companies that control huge amounts of personal data have a legal obligation to guard against theft and misuse of that information.”

She added, “We are investigating to find out how and why this data was shared by Facebook and whether the appropriate steps were taken to protect it against misuse and manipulation.” Healey had originally tweeted on March 17th that an investigation was forthcoming.