In 2016, Facebook Was Not In Control Of Russian Interference Or Fake News, Zuckerberg Admits
In an interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall on March 21, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook answered some of the questions pertaining to the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Scam.
Apart from discussing about how Facebook plans to ensure user data privacy and clamp fake news, Zuckerberg also spoke on how the social media giant plans to reduce external interference in the elections of different nations, especially at the time when US is going to have midterm elections and countries like India have elections coming up in near future.
Zuckerberg apologises and assures actions to prevent such breach in future
Zuckerberg accepted and apologised for the privacy breach by Aleksandr Kogan and UK firm Cambridge Analytica. Apart from the stringent audit of apps of any suspicious activity, he also said that the tool that informs users about the apps that are accessing their data would be moved from the privacy settings to the top of the news feed, to increase its visibility. Zuckerberg said, “If we see apps that are doing sketchy things, we’re definitely going to tell people. That’s definitely something we did wrong and I hope we do right going forward.”
He added that the 50 million users whose data was illegally harvested, would be notified of the same. “One of the most important things we have to do here is make sure we tell everyone who was impacted by these rogue apps. We’re going to build a tool where anyone can go and see if their data was a part of this.”
Emphasising on auditing apps of any suspicious activity, Zuckerberg said, “We’re going to investigate every app that has access to a large amount of information from before we locked down our platform. If we detect any suspicious activity, we’re going to do a full forensic audit.”
On the role of Facebook in ensuring integrity of elections is secured
Zuckerberg in the interview to CNN also accepted that Facebook could not manage the spread of fake news and the influence of Russian bot and troll accounts in the 2016 US Presidential elections very well. He said, “ What’s clear is that in 2016 we were not as on top of a number of issues as we should have, whether it was Russian interference or fake news.”
He said that they have learnt from the mistake and have now created bots to detect fake accounts and bot accounts spreading propaganda. “Most of what Russia did was not directly about the election. It was more about dividing people. They run a group that’s pro-immigration reform, then they’ll run a group that’s against immigration reform and divide people” Zuckerberg said.
This comment from Zuckerberg is very opposite from his claims in the days immediately after the US elections where he said, “idea that fake news on Facebook — of which it’s a small amount of content — influenced the election in any way” a “pretty crazy idea.”
Zuckerberg said that he is sure that the methods of intervention used during the 2016 US Presidential elections were being modified and used to target other elections. In the French elections that took place shortly after the US Presidential elections, the Russian bot accounts were foiled more efficiently. “In the months after the 2016 election, there was the French election. The new AI tools we built after the 2016 elections found, I think, more than 30,000 fake accounts that we believe were linked to Russian sources who were trying to do the same kind of tactics they did in the US in the 2016 election. We were able to disable them and prevent that from happening on a large scale in France.”
Giving assurance that Facebook was committed to upholding the integrity of not just the midterm elections in US, but also upcoming major elections in other countries including India. He said, “We have a responsibility to do this. Not just for the 2018 US midterm elections. There’s a big election in India, there’s a big election in Brazil, there are big elections around the world. You can be assured that we’re really committed to doing everything that we need to, to make sure that the integrity of those elections on Facebook is secured.”
On regulation and #DeleteFacebook campaign
On the regulation of Facebook, Zuckerberg said that he was not wry to the idea, however he asked for “right” regulation. He said, “I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated. But more than whether Facebook should be regulated or not, I think the question is, ‘What is the right regulation?’, rather than ‘yes or no.’ There are things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see.”
Also about the #DeleteFacebook campaign which is urging people to delete their Facebook account, Zuckerberg said that although it is not a good sign but not a very large number of people have acted on it. “ I don’t think we’ve seen a meaningful number of people act on that, but, you know, it’s not good. I think it’s a clear signal that this is a major trust issue for people.”
Brian Acton had also taken to Twitter to urge people to delete Facebook.
It is time. #deletefacebook
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) March 20, 2018