Mark Zuckerberg and the Apology Algorithm

Mark Zuckerberg and the Apology Algorithm

It took Mark Zuckerberg a few days before issuing an apology over the Cambridge Analytica hack. Odd, considering how much practice he has had over the years:

2007: Zuckerberg Saves Face, Apologizes For Beacon. To refresh your memory, Beacon was an intrusive, controversial ad system that compromised consumer privacy. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.” Oops, sorry. And nothing more to see here. As TechCrunch noted, (Zuckerberg) “also announced a new privacy control that lets Facebook members opt out of Beacon completely. Before, you had to opt out on a case-by-case and site-by-site basis… Maybe Zuckerberg is finally beginning to realize that he does not have permission to track his customers indiscriminately across the Web. Nobody does anymore.”

Stop laughing. We can hear you…

2011: The Apologies of Zuckerberg: A Retrospective. Quite a few here and keep reading:

2014: Facebook apologises for psychological experiments on users. According to The Guardian, Facebook “hid “a small percentage” of emotional words from peoples’ news feeds, without their knowledge, to test what effect that had on the statuses or “likes” that they then posted or reacted to.” Not to worry. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the test was merely “poorly communicated.” Again, nothing to see here.

2017: The Fake News Apology

2017: Zuckerberg Apologizes for Tone-Deaf Puerto Rico VR Tour

2018: Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “We’ve made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it,” said the Facebook CEO.

Don’t they even bother to change the script?

Zuck has issued many mea culpas over the years for so many breaches of trust and missteps. Vanity Fair nailed it on this latest one:

2018: Mark Zuckerberg Beta-Tests New Apology Algorithm

Newsflash: Facebook makes money and lots of it for selling your data. Maybe they didn’t collect on it twice in the case of Cambridge Analytica, but lest we forget, Facebook was instrumental to the Obama campaign: Obama, Facebook and the power of friendship: the 2012 data election A unified computer database that gathers and refines information on millions of potential voters is at the forefront of campaign technology – and could be the key to an Obama win

The Cambridge Analytica debacle wasn’t the first time user data was harvested and used in a somewhat less than transparent way. In fact, ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting was routine. Sandy Parakilas says numerous companies deployed these techniques – likely affecting hundreds of millions of users – and that Facebook looked the other way. According to The Guardian, “Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand” and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused.”

At this juncture, we really can’t be shocked to find that there’s gambling at Rick’s.

Dumb F*cks

Back in 2010, “Loveable Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called his first few thousand users “dumb fucks” for trusting him with their data,” The Register reported. Given the number of apologies Zuck has issued over the years, only to repeat the same behavior over and over again, no reason to believe that he has changed his opinion of Facebook users, either.

Considering Zuckerberg’s recidivist behavior (and let’s not forget that he is not only CEO, but the majority shareholder in the company), Facebook can’t be trusted to police itself and prevent players, bad or otherwise, from collecting/sharing/parsing data, unbeknownst to the dumb fucks – sorry, users – on the platform.

Time for Facebook to be classified as a public utility. How vast is Facebook’s reach and in case you’re wrestling with whether or not Facebook needs to be classified as a public utility, try to #DeleteFacebook and see how much that limits you from registering for or using other sites (Whistleblower Wylie: Facebook can ‘delete you from the internet’).

Nice try, Mark, and thanks for finally getting around to it, but we were not looking for yet another apology. What’s needed at this juncture is a long overdue acknowledgement that, with its seemingly insatiable need to own, control, manipulate and broker the world’s personal data, Facebook has devolved into a sorry, if not dangerous, state of affairs.

Onward and forward.

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