News People A sorry man: Mark Zuckerberg’s grim legacy of apologies

A sorry man: Mark Zuckerberg’s grim legacy of apologies

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologises yet again for another data privacy scandal. Photo: Getty
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Mark Zuckerberg has yet again been forced to apologise for the damage caused by his social media behemoth.

This week, the Facebook founder finally said he was “really sorry” that data mining company Cambridge Analytica – linked to Donald Trump’s election campaign – had secured personal data from about 50 million Facebook users to influence the 2016 presidential election.

It was a familiar performance. In 2003, Mr Zuckerberg was forced to make his first public mea culpa – for hacking into Harvard University databases and stealing students’ ID photos for a ‘Hot Or Not’ rating site called Facemash.

The scale of his apologies has only mushroomed from there.

‘We simply did a bad job’

In December 2007, Mr Zuckerberg unveiled Beacon, a new feature which notified friends of each other’s purchases.

Mr Zuckerberg issued a grovelling apology after users claimed the feature was an invasion of 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 apologise for it,” Mr Zuckerberg said in a blog post.

“I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.”

Despite his good intentions, Facebook users are not impressed with the social network giant. Photo: Facebook

‘We will keep listening’

In May 2010, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal revealed Facebook sent users’ ID numbers to at least 25 advertising and data-gathering companies.

One data-gathering firm, RapLeaf, had linked Facebook user ID information obtained from apps to its own database of internet users, and transmitted the Facebook IDs to a dozen other firms, the newspaper found.

“We will keep building, we will keep listening, and we will continue to have a dialogue with everyone who cares enough about Facebook to share their ideas,” Mr Zuckerberg said in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post.

‘I’ve grown and learned a lot’

In September 2010, Mr Zuckerberg called early Facebook users “dumb f––ks” for trusting him with their personal information.

In a leaked conversation with an unnamed friend, a 19-year-old Mr Zuckerberg said: “If you ever need info about anyone at Harvard, just ask.

“I have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS.

“People just submitted it. I don’t know why. They ‘trust me’. Dumb f––ks.”

Mr Zuckerberg told The New Yorker that he “absolutely” regretted the six-year-old messages.

“If you’re going to go on to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, then you need to be mature, right? I think I’ve grown and learned a lot.”

‘I’m sorry to anyone this offended’

In October 2017, Mr Zuckerberg copped a huge backlash for a 10-minute-long video animation depicting hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

A 3D cartoon version of Mr Zuckerberg is seen discussing a new feature with Facebook’s head of social virtual reality Rachel Franklin, to show how it could enable users to “get the feeling that you’re really in a place”.

“It feels like we’re really here in Puerto Rico where it’s obviously a tough place to get to now,” he said in the bizarre clip.

Live from virtual reality — teleporting to Puerto Rico to discuss our partnership with NetHope and American Red Cross to restore connectivity and rebuild communities.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, October 9, 2017

Mr Zuckerberg has since responded to criticism in the comment section of the Facebook Live video.

“My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what’s happening in different parts of the world,” he said.

“Reading some of the comments, I realise this wasn’t clear, and I’m sorry to anyone this offended.”

‘I regret it’

In September 2017, Mr Zuckerberg admitted he was wrong for not acknowledging the influence of “fake news” during the 2016 presidential election.

In a personal post to his page, he acknowledged Facebook’s role in spreading misinformation.

“After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea [that] misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea,” he said.

“Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it.”

‘I will try to be better’

Mr Zuckerberg took to Facebook in September 2017 to apologise for Facebook’s negative effects.

“For those I hurt this year, I ask forgiveness and I will try to be better,” he said on his page.

“For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask for forgiveness and I will work to do better.”

It came amid growing evidence that Russia used Facebook to spread propaganda and sway public opinion in favour of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Tonight concludes Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews when we reflect on the past year and ask forgiveness…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday, September 30, 2017

‘I’ve made almost every mistake’

In February to mark Facebook’s 14th birthday, Mr Zuckerberg acknowledged the “dozens of technical errors and bad deals” he’d made since he launched the platform as a Harvard student in 2004.

“Over the years, I’ve made almost every mistake you can imagine,” he said.

“I’ve trusted the wrong people and I’ve put talented people in the wrong roles.

“We believe what we’re doing matters enough to keep trying to solve our greatest challenges – knowing full well that we’ll fail again and again, but that it’s the only way to make progress.”

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