Bryan Logan, Senior Global News Editor, Business Insider

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the data scandal that has roiled the social media network this week.
  • Zuckerberg said “I’m really sorry that this happened” in an interview with CNN, which aired hours after he and Facebook’s No. 2 exec, Sheryl Sandberg, issued their first statements about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
  • The matter has roiled Facebook this week, after it was revealed that the British data firm inappropriately vacuumed up information from some 50 million Facebook users.
  • Both Zuckerberg and Sandberg acknowledged “mistakes” on the part of Facebook, but for some of their critics, the remarks fell short.
  • The scandal has contributed to a 10% drop in Facebook’s stock since last Friday.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “I’m really sorry that this happened,” in his first interview on the massive Cambridge Analytica data scandal that has roiled the social-media network this week.

Zuckerberg made that admission on CNN Wednesday night, hours after he and COO Sheryl Sandberg issued their first public statements on the matter. Cambridge Analytica inappropriately used 50 million Facebook user profiles to target ads in support of its clients, including Donald Trump’s successful 2016 election campaign.

In the interview, Zuckerberg says that he regrets taking Cambridge Analytica at its word, when it signed a legal document in 2015 certifying that it had deleted the information from those profiles — but it had not.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m used to when people legally certify that they are going to do something, that they do it. But I think this was clearly a mistake in retrospect,” Zuckerberg said.

He also said that he is willing to testify to Congress on the matter, though he would prefer to send someone with “the most knowledge” on any lines of questioning. Furthermore, he says he’s open to the idea of regulating tech, and is in favor of legislation around transparency in online advertising.

Cambridge Analytica is being scrutinized for the methods it used during the 2016 presidential election, after executives with the firm boasted about their ability to covertly target voters, entrap politicians, and launch propaganda campaigns.

The reach of those operations was multiplied by connected platforms like Facebook. Russian operatives capitalized on this to a significant degree, sowing political discord among likely voters in a wide-ranging effort to meddle in the US election. Zuckerberg has acknowledged this in fits and starts, after initially balking at the idea last year.

He expressed some lingering disbelief of the concept on Wednesday night:

“If you’d told me in 2004 when I was getting started with Facebook that a big part of my responsibility today would be to help protect the integrity of elections against interference by other governments, I wouldn’t have really believed that that was gonna be something that I would have to work on 14 years later,” Zuckerberg said.

“But we’re here now, and we’re gonna make sure we’re going to do a good job at it,” he added.

And while he says that “I’m sure someone’s trying” to influence the 2018 midterm elections, he’s sure that the company is better prepared to meet the challenge.

Categories: Features

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