Three things Facebook didn’t say
MARK Zuckerberg has finally broken his silence over the Cambridge Analytica scandal but there was something missing from his public statement.
The Facebook boss went into detail about how the current company crisis unfolded and what it has done to prevent third party developers from improperly farming out the data they collect from Facebook users. But after days of silence the statement "rings hollow," critics said.
There was no apology, no mention of answering the calls to front regulators and no mention of democracy.
He wrote of "what happened" instead of "what we did," leaving Facebook one step removed from responsibility.
The social media mogul described the details which led to 50 million users having their data improperly obtained and exploited in an attempt to sway democratic elections.
Dr Aleksandr Kogan was the University of Cambridge researcher who initially collected the data for scientific purposes and later sold it off to the shadowy analytics firm.
"This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook," Mr Zuckerberg wrote. "But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that."
Politicians in the US and Europe are calling for him to face questions in Parliament in the wake of the revelations, and Australian regulators have previously expressed a similar desire. But Mr Zuckerberg has made no indications whether he will accept any such invitations.
Technology journalist David Kirkpatrick and author of T he Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World was among the people calling for the 33-year-old billionaire to do more.
"It's good you've written something, but taking questions from the press in person would begin - just begin - to rebuild the toxic decline in trust this incident and all the other recent data lapses have engendered," he replied to Mr Zuckerberg's post.
"In my opinion you should not hide behind a Facebook post when you lead a company with the data of 2.2 billion people that many of us now fear is jeopardising democracy at a global scale. It's sad to have to write it this way, but so it is."
Mr Zuckerberg responded, saying he will appear on CNN later today, an interview scheduled for midday AEST.
"I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform," he wrote in his post.
But the public and many in the media were quick to point out that the post lacked a certain level of contrition, steering well clear of an apology.
However, it's probably naive to expect an earnest mia culpa from Mr Zuckerberg because Facebook is working exactly like it's supposed to.
"This is exactly Facebook's business model," as Chester Wisniewski, a senior security analyst at Sophos pointed out this week.
"Except they want to be the ones doing the analytics and making all the money."
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Cambridge Analytica's client list included Donald Trump's general-election campaign and has also been linked to the Leave vote in the Brexit campaign.
The company's CEO was secretly filmed bragging about how his data-mining firm helped elect the current US president, although the Trump campaign has completely denied the claims.
While the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, Mr Zuckerberg made no mention of the data's alleged use by the Trump campaign or no mention of the democratic process at all - a glaring omission that has rankled some commentators.
Mr Zuckerberg has previously tried to downplay the company's impact on democratic elections in public, despite it being a sales pitch behind closed doors. The company's website even hosted a public page boasting about its ability to influence elections. The web page was quietly removed by Facebook earlier this month.
In November 2016, Mr Zuckerberg largely dismissed the impact of fake news which spread on Facebook during the presidential election.
"Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, it's a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea," he said.
THE FIX IS IN
In his first public statement, the Facebook boss gave a detailed account of events that led to the current scandal starting with how Facebook previously allowed users to share their friends' profiles and information with third party apps as far back as 2007 - a change that was all but repealed in 2014.
Third-party app developers can now only collect your name, profile photo and email address, Mr Zuckerberg said.
Facebook will also remove developers' access to your data if you haven't used the app in three months.
"We want to make sure you understand which apps you've allowed to access your data. In the next month, we will show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you've used and an easy way to revoke those apps' permissions to your data," he wrote.