Facebook CEO Says 'Still Looking Into' Exposed User Account Data Report

Facebook CEO Says 'Still Looking Into' Exposed User Account Data Report

Facebook's Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the company is "still looking into" a report that millions of users' data was publicly accessible on Amazon.com Inc.'s cloud servers.

"In general we work with developers to make sure that they're respecting people's information and using it in only ways that they want," Zuckerberg said in an interview Thursday with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News.

Researchers at cybersecurity firm UpGuard said Wednesday they found troves of user information hiding in plain sight, inadvertently posted on Amazon's public servers. The records were accessible and downloadable for anyone who could find them online.

In one instance, Mexico City-based digital platform Cultura Colectiva, openly stored 540 million records on Facebook users, including identification numbers, comments, reactions and account names. That database was closed on Wednesday after Bloomberg alerted Facebook to the problem and Facebook contacted Amazon.

Just over a year since the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed how unsecure and widely disseminated Facebook users' information is online, Zuckerberg told Stephanopoulos that he was proud of the progress Facebook has made to stem privacy breaches and combat the spread of misinformation.

"I think in a lot of ways over the last few years, we have changed significantly how we run the company," he said. "I'm proud of the progress we've made. There's a lot more to do in each of these areas. There's a question of what decisions should be left to a private company to make, especially around things like speech and expression for so many people around the world."

Facebook shares were up 2 percent to $177.05 at 9:33am in New York. That brings gains so far this year to 35 percent.

Facebook was highly criticized after a massacre at two mosques in New Zealand last month was live streamed on the site and the video was still available on a range of platforms for hours after the event. While Zuckerberg said Facebook needs to build systems that can identify live stream terror events more quickly, he backed away from the idea of adding a delay to broadcasting.

Such a move would "fundamentally break what live streaming is for," Zuckerberg said. "You're not just broadcasting, you're communicating and people are commenting back. One of the things this flagged for me overall was the extent to which bad actors are going to try to get around our systems."

Zuckerberg said he hasn't seen data showing that social media has made acts of extreme violence more prevalent.

After Facebook was found to have been an outlet for Russian operatives to spread misinformation during the US presidential election in 2016, Zuckerberg said he's more confident about the next election in 2020.

"We've learned a lot since 2016 where obviously we were behind where we needed to be on defences," Zuckerberg said. "But the reality is that there's not a single thing that we can do and say 'alright we put this in place so now they can't even try to interfere.' They're always going to try."

Zuckerberg also talked about regulation of technology companies. The CEO called last weekend for new global regulations to govern the Internet, recommend overarching rules on hateful and violent content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

"I think regulation would be helpful, where it would be useful to spell out clearly what the responsibilities that we want companies and people and governments to have," Zuckerberg said in the interview. "There are a lot of decisions that I just think people don't want a single private company to be making."

The CEO said current laws regarding political advertising should not put the burden on private companies to set the rules. "It's not clear that we want private companies making decisions about free speech," he said.

© 2019 Bloomberg LP


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Further reading: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
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