On Thursday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg addressed the company’s privacy crisis in regard to Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook user data.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Sandberg admitted that the company had moved far too slow in their response to the alleged data harvesting and that, to this day, Facebook remains unsure as to what exactly had been taken by Cambridge Analytica.
The chief operating officer also stated that the company had not yet sufficiently invested in the safety and security of its millions of users, though she claims several updates are on the way with some already having been made in the aftermath.
Since news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has been working to address the deficiency in their system. Sandberg added that updates include compliance with Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation for more privacy.
However, Sandberg admitted that the way user data was handled was a mistake on both her and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s part.
“We made mistakes and I own them and they are on me,” Sandberg said. “There are operational things that we need to change in this company and we are changing them … We have to learn from our mistakes and we need to take action.”
“When Cambridge Analytica first happened it was a mistake for Mark (Zuckerberg) and me not to speak out earlier and faster,” she added. “We wanted to make sure we knew exactly what happened.”
Sandberg followed up by stating that one of the biggest mistakes had been not investing in further safety and security in the modern age of vicious hackers and that Facebook “underinvested.”
In a separate interview with NPR, Sandberg also admitted to not knowing whether or not other companies were involved in taking users’ private data as Cambridge Analytica did.
She did, however, promise to notify any potential victims if further privacy breaches were discovered.
“We really believed in social experiences. We really believed in protecting privacy. But we were way too idealistic. We did not think enough about the abuse cases,” Sandberg said.
“I think what really matters is that we learn from what’s happened,” she added. “Security is an ongoing game.”
European Union Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova added that the company’s response to questions regarding data security in the wake of the previous scandal has been truly unsatisfactory.
“Unfortunately some explanations fall short of my expectations,” Jourova said. “It’s clear that data of Europeans have been exposed to a huge risk and I am not sure if Facebook took all the necessary steps to implement change.”
The EU commissioner also expressed disappointment in how Facebook handled Russia’s “disinformation campaign” during the 2016 presidential election — a problem she says is a “threat to democracy and electoral processes.”
“This story is too important, too shocking, to treat it as business as usual,” Jourova said. “The internet is not a space free of the rule of law. The rules that apply offline also need to be respected in the online world.”
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