One week before his testimony to U.S. Congress on data and privacy issues, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call that he "made a mistake by dismissing fake news as having an impact."
"It was too flippant," said Zuckerberg on the call Wednesday, adding that he never should have referred to fake news as "crazy" as he did during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
On April 11, Zuckerberg will testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding Facebook’s data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a political firm connected to President Trump that improperly collected data of Facebook users. As of Wednesday, Facebook said Cambridge Analytica had access to as many as 87 million users.
Zuckerberg said during the call that Facebook didn’t do enough to focus on preventing abuse, such as fake news, interferences in elections, hate speech and data privacy. "We didn’t take a broad enough view of what our responsibility was," he said. "It was our mistake – it was my mistake."
When asked on the call if Facebook plans on filing a lawsuit against Cambridge Analytica, Zuckerberg said, "We will take legal action if we need to do that to protect people's information."
Zuckerberg spoke for the first 10 minutes about how Facebook is improving safety measures going forward, such as having 15,000 people working on security now, which will increase to 20,000 by the end of the year. For the remaining 40 minutes, he answered a barrage of media questions, including whether he thinks he’s still fit to run the company, which he does.
"I think life is about learning from mistakes," he said. Zuckerberg also said he has not fired anyone at Facebook due to the data breach and doesn’t plan on "throwing anyone under the bus."
"At the end of the day, this was my responsibility," said Zuckerberg.
On Tuesday, Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page about the company’s action to "to protect the integrity of elections around the world by taking down more than 270 pages and accounts operated by a Russian organization called the Internet Research Agency (IRA)."
Previously, Facebook looked to prevent the IRA from interfering in foreign elections, the post added. Now the company is taking down the group’s pages that target people living in Russia.
"This Russian agency has repeatedly acted deceptively and tried to manipulate people in the US, Europe, and Russia -- and we don't want them on Facebook anywhere in the world," he continued in the post.
He also said that more information about Facebook’s data and security will come out over time. "You never full solve security – it’s an arm’s race," he said. "I’m confident we’re making progress against these adversaries, but they’re very sophisticated."
When it comes to advertisers’ access to user information, Zuckerberg said the vast majority of the data Facebook has is shared with the social network by its users. "We don’t sell data to advertisers," he said.