The Facebook Apology Tour Continues

Facebook CEO designate Zuckerberg wants you to know he’s super sorry. And for the most allotment it really does seem like he means it ― so long as apologizing and trying to earn back users’ trust doesn’t nick into company profits.

On Wednesday afternoon, the social media company made its founder available for questions from the media shortly after it announced plans to restrict who can access user data and to clarify how it uses that data in the first site.

At the same time, Facebook also increased its estimate of users whose data was harvested and shared with the political research firm Cambridge Analytica, from 50 million to as many as 87 million.

Needless to say, there was plenty to talk approximately.

Here’s a brief rundown of the bigger points of the conversation:

On why users should trust Facebook is giving them a full and accurate picture of Russian meddling on the platform through the 2016 election:

Zuckerberg said he expects the company will revise and reassess the extent of Russia’s misinformation campaign and that its numbers will undoubtedly grow. “There is going to be more content that we’re going to find over time,” he said. “As long as there are people employed in Russia who believe the job of trying to find a way to exploit these systems, this is going to be a never-ending battle. You never fully solve security; it’s an arms race.”

He acknowledged Facebook was “behind” during the 2016 election and said the company plans to hire 20,000 people by the stop of the year to focus on content screening and security efforts.

On the effect of #DeleteFacebook and how many users believe left the platform: 

There hasn’t been any “meaningful impact” by the movement, he said, but the company does buy seriously the underlying sentiment that’s driving it. “Even whether we can’t degree a change, it still speaks to people feeling like this is a massive breach of trust.” 

On Facebook’s responsibility for making certain Cambridge Analytica actually deleted the user data when they said they did:

Facebook took Cambridge Analytica at its word that the company had, in fact, deleted the data harvested from up to 87 million users ― and perhaps, possibly it should believe followed up to verify it was actually deleted. Zuckerberg didn’t rule out the opportunity of legal action against Cambridge Analytica but said Facebook will accomplish a full audit first to determine what happened to the data and when.

That said, he acknowledged Facebook can’t just pass the blame onto Cambridge Analytica, as Facebook’s tools enabled its behavior in the first site.

“I contemplate we understand that we need to buy a broader view of our responsibility,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re not just building tools, but we need to buy full responsibility for the outcomes of how people utilize those tools as well. 

“Knowing what I know nowadays, clearly we should’ve done more, and we will going forward.”

On his willingness to embrace government regulation:

He’s into it, with some reservations. Asked specifically whether he’d be willing to implement strange privacy policies in the U.S. similar to the strict strange privacy laws rolling out in the European Union, Zuckerberg said he was comfortable with the notion but not in the same format.

When the EU law takes effect on May 25, Facebook will believe to score users’ explicit consent to gather data and be much more upfront approximately how it uses that data. Zuckerberg said Facebook “intends to compose the same controls and settings available everywhere, not just in Europe.” That’s subject to some flexibility, however ― a variation he attributed to a patchwork of global laws on the matter.

On whether he’s the best person to lead Facebook moving forward:

Two reporters asked variations of this question, and it seemingly caught him off guard the first time. The moment time he unhesitatingly said yes, portraying the company’s recent stumbles more as learning opportunities than far-reaching mistakes.

“When you’re building something like Facebook that is unprecedented in the world, there are going to be things that you mess up. And whether we’d gotten this right, we would’ve messed something else up. I don’t contemplate anyone is going to be perfect. But I contemplate what people should hold us accountable for is learning from the mistakes and continually doing better and continuing to evolve what our view of our responsibility is.”

On whether he’d be willing to sacrifice some of Facebook’s profits in the name of creating a more reliable company:

Nope. Zuckerberg disputed the premise of the question, portraying a more profitable Facebook as one that’s fundamentally more useful to people. As the site gets better at targeting users with more-relevant ads, the more profitable it will be.

“People disclose us that whether they’re going to see ads, they want the ads to be marvelous. Like most of the tough decisions we believe to compose, this is one where there’s a trade-off between values that people care approximately. On the one hand, people want relevant experiences, and on the other hand, I accomplish contemplate there’s some discomfort with how data is used in systems like ads. But I contemplate the feedback is overwhelmingly on the side of wanting a better experience.”

On the company’s ongoing efforts to decrease misinformation on Facebook:

Zuckerberg broke this into three distinct categories, each to be combated via different initiatives by the company.

The first category of nasty actors he summed up as spammers who craft sensationalistic fake stories. People click, the stories spread rapidly despite being fraudulent and the author ― often located in Macedonia ― makes money. Simple artificial intelligence measures believe helped curb this type of economically driven content.

The moment category belongs to Russian agents and other government actors who are interfering with and attempting to influence the outcome of an election. Zuckerberg acknowledged this is more difficult to combat ― particularly because it mimics and can be indistinguishable from valid, lega political discussion. Facebook is making progress here, with moderate successes in the French and German elections, but Zuckerberg cautioned it will be a “multi-year effort.”

And the third category he identified tracks back to political polarization in society itself. That shows up on Facebook when highly biased media outlets present a larger picture that “isn’t really lawful even whether the specific facts might be.” Zuckerberg said the site is seeking to counter by promoting “broadly trusted journalism” that does a “just and thorough” job.

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