The post-apology questions that Facebook needs to face

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Facebook's apology letter

I’ve been writing about the impact of the big tech giants in our lives and their impact on the marketing sector.

Well, the irony today was the digital son atoned, in print, for his sins in The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal to be exact.

On Sunday, Facebook took out full-page ads to apologise for the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal that’s blown up in the social network’s face.

The ads are an apology written by founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg. They try to clarify what’s occurred and state that Facebook has stopped third-party apps from “getting so much information,” and that the company has started “limiting what the data apps get when you sign up,” which is what Zuckerburg said on CNN 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 his interview on CNN and The New York Times.

Notably, Zuckerberg’s first Facebook post addressing the situation last Wednesday did not say he or the company was sorry. I watched his televised broadcast interview with CNN and he did apologise 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.

Unless you’re living on another planet, you know that the backlash has been severe with numerous lawsuits, governmental inquiries and moreover the #DeleteFacebook member boycott campaign with several high profile people, such as Elon Musk, along with the founder of WhatsApp.

If you piss your fans off, they’re going to rise up against you, and in this case, they did. They have the social media tools to wreak havoc. The monetary impact? So far a hefty drop in share price that’s erased nearly $50 billion of the company’s market cap.

Furthermore, one must also wonder how this fall-out may tarnish the prestigious universities periphrastically linked to the founding of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Harvard University is where Mark Zuckerberg started the social network to begin with while a student. Cambridge University is where researchers at Cambridge Analytica came from.

Lots to ponder after these recent revelations.

Scott Goodson is chief executive officer at StawberryFrog.

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