Facebook failed to prevent data misuse: Zuckerberg

WASHINGTON • Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told the US Congress in written testimony released yesterday that the social media network did not do enough to prevent misuse of data.

He apologised and said he will accept responsibility for the mistakes made. "It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm," he said in the testimony released by the US House Energy and Commerce Committee. "That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy."

Mr Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear before two congressional committees today and tomorrow, to answer questions about Facebook's admission that the personal information of up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake," his testimony continued. "It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here."

Last Friday, Facebook backed proposed legislation requiring social media sites to disclose the identities of buyers of online political campaign ads and introduced a new verification process for people buying "issue" ads, which do not endorse any candidate but have been used to exploit divisive subjects such as gun laws and racism.

The steps are designed to deter the kind of election meddling and online information warfare that the US authorities have accused Russia of pursuing, Mr Zuckerberg said last Friday. Moscow has denied the allegations.

Mr Zuckerberg yesterday admitted that the company's response to Russia's alleged interference was lacking. "We were too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference, and we're working hard to get better," he said.

He vowed to make improvements, adding that it would take time, but said he was "committed to getting it right".

He also said that Facebook's major investments in security "will significantly impact our profitability going forward".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2018, with the headline 'Facebook failed to prevent data misuse: Zuckerberg'. Print Edition | Subscribe