LAS VEGAS — Facebook vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson reiterated the social media firm’s stance made earlier Monday about the care it takes to protect its users’ privacy following allegations last week that a data firm tied to President Trump had misused the data of some 50 million users.
Facebook first posted to its blog Friday that it had suspended Strategic Communication Laboratories and its data firm Cambridge Analytica from Facebook. The company said in its post University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan was found to have passed data collected from Facebook users who downloaded his app, called thisisyourdigitallife, to Cambridge Analytica, a violation of the social networking site’s policies.
Facebook on Monday confirmed it would conduct a forensic audit to further investigate the matter.
“I think, first and foremost, what I would say to all of our users and, frankly, all of our partners is nothing is more important than the privacy of the people who use our platform,” Everson said during her keynote at the Shoptalk conference, referencing the forensic audit when asked at the top of her talk to address the matter.
Everson added it would be pursued “to the full extent of the law.”
The executive, when asked why more hadn’t been done in 2015 when it first learned of data harvesting affecting some 20 million users, said the company had been assured the data had been destroyed. It was more recently found that may not have been the case. The company is now attempting to find out what was actually done with the data at that time, she said.
“It is too early to share with you what we will do in terms of any notification because literally the audit is just beginning and as I mentioned there will be a full-scale investigation, and, if need be, utilize the law to the fullest extent possible to go after any serious wrongdoings,” Everson said.
She also attempted to address what the social media firm intends to do on a more proactive front.
“Giving people control over how their data is used is actually one of the core principles of how we built the platform,” she said, pointing to the ability for users to close ads or see why they’ve received a certain ad. “I think we can and need to do a better job in educating consumers that they have that level of control.”
The company is also beta testing transparent ads in Canada that allow for people to see how organizations or businesses are targeting people, which comes amid calls the company do more as it relates to how firms use the platform for political advertising. That feature is expected to roll out in time for November’s mid-term elections.
“It’s possible the complaints [about ads] will increase, but we think that’s a good thing,” she said. “We have zero tolerance for any misuse of our data or policy breach.”