In his first sit-down interview since news broke over the weekend that data on millions of users had been siphoned from Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was apologetic. In an interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall, Zuckerberg said, “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry that this happened.”
In the interview, which took place almost five days after Facebook first tried to get out in front of the Cambridge Analytica story, Zuckerberg continuously stumbled over his words and looked caught off guard (“I think technology is increasingly a trend in the world,” he observed). He named Cambridge Analytica and researcher Aleksandr Kogan by name and repeatedly, clearly aiming to cast this incident as an anomaly.
Zuckerberg tried to portray himself and his company as naive. “I’m used to when people legally certify, that they’re gonna do it,” Zuckerberg said, referring to Cambridge’s certification that it had discarded Kogan’s data. “We’re not just gonna take people’s word for it when they give us a legal certification.” (In Facebook’s nascent days, Zuckerberg referred to users who trusted him with their data as “dumb fucks.”)
“We’re not going to make that mistake again,” the CEO promised, noting that in order to inform potentially compromised users, “We know what the apps were that had access to data, we know how many people were using those services.”
Elsewhere, Zuckerberg spoke about regulation and potentially testifying before Congress. Regarding testifying, Zuckerberg said that “we want to make sure we send whoever is best informed to do it.” Contemporaneously, he told Wired, “if it is ever the case that I am the most informed person at Facebook in the best position to testify, I will happily do that.” (Zuckerberg obviously did a number of interviews this afternoon.) So, Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO of Facebook, but he is not well informed enough to talk about anything Facebook does.
On the question of regulation, Zuckerberg said, “I actually am not sure we shouldn’t be regulated.” That’s sure to be a quote lawmakers return to as Facebook figures out how to reconcile its business model with its reputation going forward.