Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg has apologised for the social network’s recent data privacy scandal by taking out full-page adverts in several UK and US newspapers.
Zuckerberg said that Facebook could have done more to stop Cambridge Analytica from exploiting user data in 2014, calling it a ‘breach of trust’.
This is something its own users agree with – recent opinion polls show that a majority of the public no longer trust Facebook to obey privacy laws.
Zuckerberg tries to make amends with apology
Zuckerberg’s full-page apology said:
“We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.
“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 make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The ad appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Observer, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Express on 25th March. It was also seen by US readers of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Although the ad echoes a status update Zuckerberg published on Facebook last week, this time around he explicitly apologised for the incident, which was absent previously.
Facebook’s finances and reputation in tatters
Soon after the scandal broke, investors sold shares in their droves and Facebook’s value plunged by $58bn. Analysts said the price slump showed investors were wary of increased regulation and users leaving the platform.
The revelations that a 2014 Facebook quiz harvested data from users and their friends without consent has also led to a backlash from advertisers; the network’s most lucrative stream of revenue.
“Make no mistake Facebook is an amazing medium from the advertiser’s point of view because of the accuracy of its targeting – which comes from data,” said M&C Saatchi’s Founding Director David Kershaw.
“But I think those large companies are very nervous to be associated with a medium where the data is being abused, particularly in a political context,”
Users losing trust in Facebook
Opinion polls published in the United States and Germany reinforce the notion that users and advertisers could soon desert Facebook due to a lack of trust.
According to Reuters/Ipsos, fewer than half of Americans trust Facebook to obey US privacy laws. A further 41 per cent of Americans trust Facebook to safeguard their personal information, compared with 66 percent who said they trust Amazon.com Inc, 62 percent who trust Alphabet Inc’s Google, and 60 percent for Microsoft Corp.
Another survey published by Bild am Sonntag, Germany’s largest-selling Sunday paper, found 60 per cent of citizens fear Facebook and other social networks are having a negative impact on democracy. Overall, only 33 percent found social media had a positive effect on democracy
However, data supplied to Reuters by SimilarWeb, which measures global online audiences, showed that Facebook usage in major markets worldwide remained steady when details of the scandal emerged.