5 Key Takeaways From the Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Trial

Last week we brought you details of the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica case and it’s affects on your data. So, as a logical progression, this week we will focus on the Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Trial and document the major talking points to emerge thus far.

Facebook Did Not Notify FTC About Their Data Leak.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook did not notify the Federal Trade Commission about the Cambridge Analytica data leak from 2015 because it was considered a closed case. The profiles of  87million Facebook users were harvested by a quiz app. The data of which was sold to political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which supported Donald Trump in the election. Facebook demanded the maker of the quiz app as well as Cambridge Analytica delete the data. The social network was assured that this was done in 2015, but recent reports suggest that the data still exists. Cambridge Analytica denies this.

Facebook admitted it hadn’t checked the data was erased after it made the request to Cambridge Analytica to do so.

“We considered it a closed case. In retrospect that was clearly a mistake. We shouldn’t have taken their word for it,” Zuckerberg told the senators.

Zuckerberg’s Own Data Was Acquired By Cambridge Analytica.

It was put to Zuckerberg as to whether his own data was “included in the data sold to malicious third parties,” to which the Facebook CEO responded, “yes”. Facebook is refusing to explicitly confirm that this malicious third party is GSR, the company started by the Cambridge University researcher Alexsandr Kogan.

Zuckerberg’s admission makes it harder than ever for Facebook to claim that its platform circa 2013 was fit for purpose: if even the CEO cannot lock down his privacy settings, who can?

Facebook Is Not Happy With Cambridge University.

 Zuckerberg has not ruled out suing Cambridge University if it is discovered that “something bad” was going on at the institution. Facebook had only just discovered that the university has a large psychographics research team, and he is shocked. “There’s a whole programme associated with Cambridge,” he said, “with a number of researchers who were building similar apps” to that constructed by Kogan. Cambridge was also implicated in the banning of a second data broker, Cubeyou, from Facebook on Monday.


Questions Facebook Appear to be Avoiding.

It seems that there are questions on certain topics that Facebook would prefer to avoid. Specifically questions about its profiling abilities were not answered directly. When asked about ownership of virtual content, Zuckerberg’s favoured response was to note that you own all the “content” you upload, and can delete it at will which did not satisfactorily answer the question. As we know, the advertising profile that Facebook builds up about you cannot be deleted, and you have no control over it.

Similarly, Zuckerberg repeatedly tried to dodge the question of how much data Facebook holds about users’ browsing behaviour. It took him over a minute to concede that Facebook tracks that information, but argued that most users understand that and desire it.

The Russian Angle.

Zuckerberg described the company’s slowness in identifying Russian information operations as one of his “greatest regrets”. He added that Facebook was in something of an arms race: “As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose job is it to try to interfere in elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict.”

It should also be noted that, according to Zuckerberg, Facebook is “working” with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He said he had not been personally interviewed by Mueller’s team, but that others in the company had. He also stated:

“I want to be careful here, because that work is confidential. We are in open session and I don’t want to reveal anything that is confidential.”

So some interesting details have emerged so far and who knows what other revelations may be in store. We’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on this one.

That’s all for now. See you again next week!