Facebook Rep. Testifies Before House of Commons Amid Cambridge Analytica Scandal
Apr 28 2018
Today (26 April), Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer appeared before the UK House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee where MPs grilled him about the Cambridge Analytica affair and why Facebook did not inform users why their data was accessed without their consent.
The data was gathered via a quiz app, "thisisyourdigitallife, ' developed by Aleksandr Kogan, then a psychology researcher with University of Cambridge, and his company Global Science Research (GSR) which pulled out Facebook users" data in 2014-2015.
"We were slow to understand the impact at the time, and I am way more disappointed in this than you are", Schroepfer said to laughter from the room.
The announcement of the results of the first quarter of 2018 was long-awaited as it is the first release of financial data after the outbreak of the scandal that shook the company for more than a month.
Facebook is making numerous changes to its platform to emphasise "safety, transparency and control" for users and user data, said Schroepfer, including a "searchable archive" of political advertising in time for the United Kingdom local elections in May 2019.
It was my mistake, and I'm sorry.
"Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018", he said in a statement.
However, despite the influence the Russian company was said to have had, Schroepfer puts its Facebook spending at an nearly nonexistent level.
She said Facebook had only heard from "a handful of advertisers" who paused their spending in the wake of the scandal, one of whom has since returned. After all, people post all manner of personally revealing things on far more open platforms like Instagram and Twitter, its no wonder that some may simply shrug off data collection.
Facebook attracts 40 million monthly active users in Britain, he wrote, representing about 60 percent of the entire population.
In response Schroepfer said that he "respectfully disagreed" with that assessment. "We just don't want that association", says Seper, who had been doing most of his advertising on Facebook.
The Silicon Valley company reported a 63 increase in profit and a 49 percent jump in revenue for the first quarter, driven by continued growth in its mobile advertising business.
While working for major political campaigns, the firm gathered data to develop a mechanism that would predict and influence the behavior of USA voters.
According to Schroepfer, Facebook had confirmed there were clear administrative links between Cambridge Analytica and AIQ - the Canadian data firm used by the official Vote Leave campaign.
"The first step for Facebook was to show that the problem is contained", said Dan Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research for GBH Insights, a marketing research firm. The company has 10 million small businesses with Facebook pages in the US and 6 million advertisers, a lot of them small companies; CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quoted earlier this month as saying he doesn't believe the company has seen a meaningful impact on ad spending from the scandal. Publishers, in particular, have complained that they've seen a sharp dropping off in the amount of traffic they're seeing from Facebook following the changes.