Facebook on Sunday took out full-page ads in seven British newspapers and three American ones to apologize for the ongoing Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal engulfing the social network in a legal and regulatory nightmare.
The ads, which take the form of an apology penned by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, attempt to clarify the situation by reiterating that the company has already stopped third-party apps from “getting so much information,” and that Facebook has started “limiting the data apps get when you sign up,” an announcement the company made earlier this past week.
“This was a breach of trust and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time,” writes Zuckerberg. “I promise to do better for you.” This new, more definitive apology comes just days after the chief executive’s flurry of interviews with American media organizations, including CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and Recode. According to CNN, the ads appeared in the Sunday editions of the UK newspapers The Observer, The Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday Express and Sunday Telegraph. In the US, the ads appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Notably, Zuckerberg’s initial Facebook post addressing the situation last Wednesday did not say he or the company was sorry. Not until his televised broadcast interview with CNN did Zuckerberg verbalize an apology, and only after days of deafening silence from Facebook’s top leadership on the subject since the Cambridge Analytica revelations came to light a little over one week ago.
As we understand it now, the data mining and analytics company, based out of London, gained access to data on as many as 50 million Facebook profiles thanks to generous data-sharing policies Facebook app developers enjoyed back in 2014. This data, which was sold to Cambridge Analytica against Facebook’s terms of service, reportedly informed the firm’s election ad targeting toolset used by the campaign of President Donald Trump and others. The fallout has been severe, with numerous lawsuits, governmental inquiries, a #DeleteFacebook user boycott campaign, and a sharp drop in share price that’s erased nearly $50 billion of the company’s market cap.