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Will Ensure Integrity of Indian Elections on Facebook: Zuckerberg

“I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” the Facebook CEO also said on 21 March.

Updated
World
5 min read
Will Ensure Integrity of Indian Elections on Facebook: Zuckerberg
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“I'm not sure we shouldn't be regulated. I think the question is more, ‘What is the right regulation?’ rather than yes or no,” Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall, on 21 March.

In addition to the interview with CNN, Zuckerberg also spoke to The New York Times, apart from issuing a statement on Facebook explaining what the social media giant would do to check potential data breaches.

In light of the revelation that data brokerage firm Cambridge Analytica had unethically received and retained the information of nearly 50 million Facebook users, Mark Zuckerberg answered a number of important questions about the social media giant’s handle on data privacy, its efforts towards clamping down on fake news, and its handle on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential elections.

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‘Everyone Who Was Affected Will Be Informed’

Right off the bat, Zuckerberg begins by issuing an apology for the privacy breach committed by Aleksandr Kogan and Cambridge Analytica, adding that the company was implementing measures to restrict the data that developers could access.

Zuckerberg added that Facebook will also build a tool which tells people if their data and their information was impacted by the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

One of the most important things we have to do here is make sure we tell everyone who was impacted by these rogue apps. We’re going to build a tool where anyone can go and see if their data was a part of this.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Facebook in the interview to CNN

“If we see apps that are doing sketchy things, we’re definitely going to tell people. That’s definitely something we did wrong and I hope we do right going forward,” Zuckerberg added, stating that they would ensure they monitored app activity and data access more strictly.

'Not Sure We Shouldn’t Be Regulated’

Answering CNN’s questions about whether he believed the social network should be regulated, Zuckerberg had this to say:

I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated. But more than whether Facebook should be regulated or not, I think the question is, ‘What is the right regulation?’, rather than ‘yes or no.’ There are things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Facebook in the interview to CNN
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‘Facebook Was Not on Top of Fake News and Russian Influence in the 2016 US Presidential Elections’

In an interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall, Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook did not have a handle on the spread of fake news, and the influences of Russian bot and troll accounts in the 2016 US Presidential elections, adding that they did learn from their mistakes and have created bots to detect fake accounts and bot accounts being used to spread divisive propaganda and identify clear voter and other targets by spreading polarising messages.

Most of what Russia did was not directly about the election. It was more about dividing people. They run a group that’s pro-immigration reform, then they’ll run a group that’s against immigration reform and divide people.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Facebook in the interview to CNN

‘We’re Going to Audit Every Single App for Suspicious Activity’

In response to a question about what Facebook planned on doing in response to the revelation that Cambridge Analytica had retained information from, Zuckerberg said:

We’re going to investigate every app that has access to a large amount of information from before we locked down our platform. If we detect any suspicious activity, we’re going to do a full forensic audit.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Facebook in the interview to CNN

In the interview with The New York Times Zuckerberg adds, “we’re going to go do a full forensic audit, and make sure we have the capacity to do that, to make sure that other developers aren’t doing what Kogan did here.”

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‘Apart from the US Mid-Terms, Big Elections in India This Year’

Speaking to CNN, Zuckerberg says that he’s certain that the same methods used to interfere with the 2016 US Presidential elections were being modified and used to target other elections.

In the interview with The New York Times, Zuckerberg adds that the methods used by Russian bot accounts in the 2016 US Presidential elections were thwarted in a more efficient way during the french elections that took place shortly after.

In the months after the 2016 election, there was the French election. The new AI tools we built after the 2016 elections found, I think, more than 30,000 fake accounts that we believe were linked to Russian sources who were trying to do the same kind of tactics they did in the US in the 2016 election. We were able to disable them and prevent that from happening on a large scale in France.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Facebook, to The New York Times

With regards to concerns of Indian elections being influenced by bot and troll accounts, Zuckerberg had this to say:

We have a responsibility to do this. Not just for the 2018 US mid-term elections. There’s a big election in India, there’s a big election in Brazil, there are big elections around the world. You can be assured that we’re really committed to doing everything that we need to, to make sure that the integrity of those elections on Facebook is secured.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Facebook in the interview to CNN
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‘Not Too Many People Acting on the #DeleteFacebook Campaign’

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica expose, millions of users began a #DeleteFacebook campaign, pushing for people to purge all of their data from the social media giant, and delete their accounts. Zuckerberg had this to say, in response to whether he was concerned about the campaign.

I don’t think we’ve seen a meaningful number of people act on that, but, you know, it’s not good. I think it’s a clear signal that this is a major trust issue for people.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Facebook, to The New York Times

Facebook’s stock prices dropped by more than 7 percent following the revelation that Cambridge Analytica, which worked for Donald Trump’s election campaign, had unethically accessed and retained the data of nearly 50 million Facebook users.

Whether Facebook can control the damage from this revelation, remains to be seen.

(With inputs from The New York Times and CNN)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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