Facebook reportedly misused the information of 50 million users to target election ads tied to the Trump campaign in 2015


Mark Zuckerberg made a rare on-camera appearance to apologize for Facebook’s recent data breach.

“I’m really sorry that this happened,” the social network’s co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer said in an interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall that aired Wednesday.

Days before Zuckerberg’s public address, The Observer and The New York Times revealed that Facebook reportedly misused the information of 50 million users to target election ads to the political research group Cambridge Analytica, which worked for Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign. The reports have sparked widespread outrage among users and politicians in the U.S. and the U.K.

“This was a major breach of trust,” Zuckerberg said. “We have a basic responsibility to protect people’s data. And if we can’t do that then we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people. So our responsibility now so this doesn’t happen again.”

In addition, the father of two expressed his regrets for not taking more action against Cambridge Analytica when the breach was first made known to Facebook in 2015 after data scientist Aleksandr Kogan created a 2014 Facebook personality quiz that gave him access to millions of users’ personal information that was shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Mark Zuckerberg - September 2017 - cover
Mark Zuckerberg

“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. We need to make sure we don’t make that mistake ever again,” Zuckerberg said.

This is not the first time Facebook has been publicly scrutinized for scandals affecting its users. Most notably, the accusations that fake news shared on the platform influenced the 2016 election and how the Russians meddled in the midterm elections.

“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,” Zuckerberg said. “The reality here is that this isn’t rocket science, I mean there’s a lot of hard work that we need to do to make it harder for nation-states like Russia to do election interference, to make it so that trolls and other folks can’t spread fake news.”

Zuckerberg also predicted that another Russian interference could be possible.

“I’m sure someone’s trying, right? I’m sure that there’s v2, version two, of whatever the Russian effort was in 2016, I’m sure they’re working on that. And there are going to be some new tactics that we need to make sure that we observe and get in front of,” he said.