The Zuckerberg Data Drama Continues

Apr 16, 2019

Last week, Facebook met with journalists to talk about the latest updates to it “reduce, remove, inform” approach to problematic content. In a post in its newsroom, the company revealed several ways it’s beefing up this policy and the tools and strategies behind it.

From expanding the content the Associated Press will review as a third-party fact-checker and reducing the reach of Facebook Groups that repeatedly share misinformation to launching a Forward Indicator and Context Button on Messenger to help prevent the spread of misinformation, Facebook seems to be buckling down when it comes to its role in combating fake news. However, the news isn’t all good for Zuckerberg and company this week.

Today, CNBC reported that CEO Mark Zuckerberg once hoped to determine the worth of user data through third-party deals. “The report, which cites 4,000 leaked pages of internal documents, shines a light on the way senior company executives viewed attaching a dollar sign to sensitive user data, despite Facebook’s public commitment to protect such information,” according to CNBC. “It said the social network’s boss once mulled 100 deals with app developers for potentially selling access to user data. In one message highlighted by the publication, Zuckerberg says the goal ‘wouldn’t be the deals themselves,’ but learning ‘what developers would actually pay.’”

This probably isn’t all that surprising to anyone who understands Facebook’s business model--in fact, it might be more surprising to find out Facebook didn’t go through with the deals. But Zuckerberg has said in the past that Facebook would never sell user data without their permission, and for many, this news just raises more questions about Facebook’s sincerity about data privacy.

Dan Goldstein, president of Page 1 Solutions says, "Facebook now claims that it has found religion and plans to be a beacon for privacy in interactions on the platform. The more likely scenario is that this is a response to market forces and/or the threat of regulation. Facebook likely had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the conclusion, and now the company is pivoting to save face."

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