If consumers were waiting for an apology from Facebook’s founder, they got one last night.
Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook and its CEO, was interviewed by CNN’s Laurie Segall after breaking a multi-day silence on the Cambridge Analytica scandal that has embroiled his company.
In an earlier Facebook post, he admitted that mistakes were made and outlined Facebook’s timeline of the incident, as well as offering plans to ensure this kind of data loss never happens again. However, his written statement stopped short of apologizing.
Then, he went on TV.
Laurie Segall: I’m gonna start with just a basic question, Mark, what happened? What went wrong?
Mark Zuckerberg : So this was a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened. You know we have a basic responsibility to protect people’s data and if we can’t do that then we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people. So our responsibility now is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
He emphasized what Facebook was already doing to make sure its users data was safe and provided details of how Facebook could be tougher on bad actors like Cambridge Analytica.
“We’re going to review thousands of apps,” Zuckerberg said. “So, this is gonna be an intensive process, but this is important.”
He went on to say: “I f we go in and find that Cambridge Analytica still has access to the data, we’re gonna take all legal steps that we can to make that the data of people in our community is protected.”
When asked whether the government should regulate tech, he said, “I actually think the question is more, ‘What is the right regulation?’ rather than, ‘Yes or no, should it be regulated?'”
Was it enough?
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Some seem unready to forgive Facebook and its CEO:
Mark Zuckerberg’s apology rings hollow. Facebook has almost single-handedly destroyed our constitutional right to privacy and helped an American dictator steal an election. We need our democracy back.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) March 21, 2018
Others wonder whether other platforms should follow Zuckerberg’s example.
Does twitter need to come clean like Zuckerberg did?
— Greasy Notes (@GreasyNotes) March 22, 2018
Zuckerberg’s Facebook post might have calmed the waters, but it’s clear that his TV appearances were important to reach a larger audience.
I click on the link to read Zuckerberg’s ‘apology’ over Cambridge Analytica – and guess what, I’m given a great big pop-up asking me if I want to join Facebook.
And that’s pretty much the key point.
— Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) March 22, 2018
Others found his written apology too scripted:
— Jack Shafer (@jackshafer) March 20, 2018
By releasing his written statement before doing interviews, Zuckerberg elicited feedback on what users wanted to hear:
Ok, so here’s what I think is wrong with Mark Zuckerberg’s statement, aside from the lack of apology/regret. 1/
— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) March 21, 2018
What’s not in Zuckerberg’s 937-word statement:
No pledge to address Congress
No discussion of regulation
No reckoning of why Facebook now cares about this old event
(they got busted, stock dropped)
No words like apology, sorry, regret
More in our lead story at 6pm tonight…
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) March 21, 2018
The naysayers chime in
Though his interviews hit more of the topics people wanted to hear about, some commentators still see Zuckerberg’s apology tour as something of a rehash.
Zuckerberg’s performance repeated the familiar beats of a traditional Facebook mea-kinda-culpa. It’s similar to the tone struck by executive Andrew Bosworth when he tweeted that, well actually, Cambridge Analytica’s purloining of Facebook users data for use in political subterfuge is “unequivocally not a data breach” because “no systems were infiltrated.” It also smacked of Zuckerberg’s regrettable statement in November 2016 that it was ” a pretty crazy idea” to think that fake news had an impact on the election since, if you looked at the data, it represented a small percentage of all the communications posted to Facebook. (Zuckerberg has since walked back that statement.)
As Facebook tries to regain consumer trust, the journey seems an uphill climb.
Is more connection necessarily a good thing? Is it still a good deal to trade our data for more effective digital products? Can the value of a piece of communication be quantified in likes, shares, and comments?
These are questions that Zuckerberg has not asked, and maybe cannot ask. But the rest of us can—if it’s not too late.
What do you think of Zuckerberg’s TV interview and apology, Ragan/PR Daily readers?