NEW YORK (AP) – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is admitting mistakes and outlining steps to protect user data in light of privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm.
Zuckerberg is breaking more than four days of silence as he posts an update about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page Wednesday that Facebook has a “responsibility” to protect its users’ data, and “if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.”
Zuckerberg and Facebook’s No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, have been quiet since news broke Friday that Cambridge may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections.
Meanwhile, some Facebook users have been leaving the social network or mulling the possibility, and Facebook’s stock is down 9 percent since Friday.
Facebook’s handling of the growing public-relations crisis is remarkable in that one of the world’s biggest companies seems not to be playing by well-established crisis-management rules.
“This will go down as the textbook case study as how not to handle a crisis,” said Scott Galloway, a New York University professor of marketing. “The only thing we know about this and are comfortable predicting is that it’s going to get worse.”
Most Fortune 500 companies adhere to well-established crisis-management rules. When video surfaced of a passenger being dragged from an overbooked United Airlines flight last April, for example, CEO Oscar Munoz at first hedged but then apologized . When Pepsi ran an ad last spring featuring Kendall Jenner that appeared to trivialize the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the company pulled the ad , saying, “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.”
The point is to at least make an effort to seem remorseful to win back public trust, experts say. But despite user outcry on its own Facebook page and a call from Congress for Zuckerberg to testify about Facebook’s role in election-meddling, Facebook seems to be charting its own course.
It’s a pattern Facebook has long followed, said Helio Fred Garcia, a professor of crisis management at NYU and Columbia University in New York. Facebook hedged during its early days in 2007 over a controversial advertising program called Beacon that did not alert users it was sharing their activity, and it did so again in its response to Russian bots hijacking Facebook ad software during the Trump campaign in 2016.