- Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg responded to the publication of internal company emails and documents by UK Parliament.
- The documents highlight how Facebook made early decisions around sharing user data in the run-up to 2014/2015.
- Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook’s policies had prevented lots of “sketchy apps,” and that if the policies had been in place a year earlier, the Cambridge Analytica scandal would never have happened.
- He also emphasised that the firm had never sold anyone’s data.
Embattled Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg defended his firm’s data-sharing agreements with third-party app makers, after UK lawmakers published a 250-page trove of internal documents and emails detailing the firm’s approach.
In a Facebook post published on Wednesday afternoon, Zuckerberg wrote:
“I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems. That’s healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world, and it is right that we are constantly asked to explain what we do. But it’s also important that the coverage of what we do — including the explanation of these internal documents — doesn’t misrepresent our actions or motives.”
The documents and emails reveal the firm’s internal discussions in the run-up to a major platform change in 2014/2015 that would cut off third-party developers from accessing friend data. Specifically, the emails and documents show how Facebook agreed to whitelist certain firms, such as Netflix and Airbnb, while blocking those companies that it considered competition.
The tranch of documents include emails from Zuckerberg himself, at one point personally approving Facebook’s decision to cut off video app Vine’s access to friend data. The decision, made in 2013, drew criticism at the time.
Elsewhere, the emails make clear that Facebook didn’t want anything that might copycat its services accessing valuable data.
In his Wednesday post, Zuckerberg defended such decisions:
“Of course, we don’t let everyone develop on our platform. I mentioned above that we blocked a lot of sketchy apps. We also didn’t allow developers to use our platform to replicate our functionality or grow their services virally in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook. We restricted a number of these apps, and for others we asked developers to provide easy ways for people to share their content outside of their apps and to Facebook if they wanted.”
He added that Facebook’s decision to prevent developers accessing certain user data helped crack down on “sketchy apps,” and that if the policies had been in place 12 months earlier, the Cambridge Analytica data scandal would never have taken place.
Zuckerberg noted that the documents only show part of Facebook’s discussions at the time.
The documents were published on Wednesday by UK Parliament as part of an investigation into fake news.
They are part of a US lawsuit involving app developer Six4Three, an app developer currently suing Facebook, and are under seal by order of a California court. UK politicians used parliamentary privilege to publish the collection of documents to shed light after the Cambridge Analytica scandal on how Facebook made early decisions around data-sharing.