News & events

Facebook uses newspaper ad to apologise for data leak

Taking out full-page ads in yesterday’s papers, the social media company addressed Facebook’s data leak, following The Observer’s revelations of how the data was then used by Cambridge Analytica in an attempt to sway democratic processes.

The ad, which is signed by Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg, leads with: "We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can't, we don't deserve it."

The following copy doesn't name the Cambridge Analytica scandal directly, but references "a quiz app built by a university researcher that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014".

Appearing across newspapers, including in The Observer – the same paper in which the story originally broke – the ad attempts to harness the newsworthy and engaged environment of newspapers to speak directly to readers.

A week ago, The Observer lifted the lid on the Cambridge Analytica scandal with a front-page expose featuring whistle-blower Christopher Wylie. It revealed that 50 million Facebook files were harvested by data analytics firm Cambridge Anayltica, which worked with Donald Trump's election team and the winning Brexit campaign.

Prior to publication, Guardian Media Group (which owns The Observer) received a legal letter from Facebook, a move which has since been described by Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, as "not our wisest move".

Speaking on Radio 4's Media Show, Carole Cadwalladr, the journalist who bought the story to light, said that there is a "moral vacuum which we've seen in Facebook's reaction ever since Trump's election". Expanding on this, she says: "All the way along [Facebook] refused to acknowledge that there have been problems... that's been the amazing thing about this whistle blower, with pink hair, across every news channel, pointing the finger and saying 'I was there, I've got the receipts, I've got the documents, I've got the contracts, I was there. We know that the Facebook data was harvested, so tell us why you allowed that'."

Read more here.


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