March 25, 2018 4:11 pm
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a news conference in San Francisco, November 15, 2010.
By Robert Galbraith/Reuters.
After simultaneous reports last week revealing that Facebook had allowed Mercer-backed data analytics company Cambridge Analytica to harvest data from around 50 million users, even denizens of Silicon Valley heard the social-media giant’s death knell. “This is a slow roll into serious fuckery,” one tech investor told my colleague Nick Bilton. “They’re fucked.” Perhaps divining the urgency of the situation from Facebook stock’s almost $50 billion plunge, Mark Zuckerberg took to the airwaves for a round of mea culpa’s, and it appears his apology tour is ongoing: on Sunday, a full-page advertisement written in Zuck’s voice and bearing his signature appeared in more than half a dozen major print publications.
The U.K.’s The Observer, The Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday Express and Sunday Telegraph, along with American newspapers The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal all carried the ad, which began, “You may have heard about a quiz app built by a university researcher that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014. This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. We’re now taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.” Zuckerberg went on to assure Facebook users that the social-media company would be “limiting the data apps get when you sign in,” and was also “investigating every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this.”
As several on social media have pointed out, Facebook’s choice to list the steps it will take to self-regulate reads as an attempt to preempt any kind of official regulation—a threat that has become increasingly likely Zuckerberg has stumbled into one minefield after another.
It’s unclear, however, whether this strategy will work. Congressional committees in both the House and the Senate have called on Zuckerberg to personally testify before them. “Mr. Zuckerberg needs to come and testify,” Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. “He created this entity, he in effect created this industry, and he needs to come explain [himself] to the American public.” (Zuckerberg has said he’d be “open” to testifying before Congress if he’s the “right person” to do so.)
Even Apple’s Tim Cook said on Saturday that he believes “well-crafted” privacy regulations should be imposed on social media companies’ data usage, to prevent a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica leak: “The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life—from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.”
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