World

Facebook’s Zuckerberg says sorry to Britons in newspaper ads

LONDON Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg apologisedyesterday over a "breach of trust", taking out full page advertisements in British and US newspapers after a political consultancy got its hands on data on 50 million users.

"We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can't, we don't deserve it," said the advert, signed by Mr Zuckerberg.

The world's largest social media network is facing growing government scrutiny in Europe and the US.

This follows allegations by a whistleblower that British consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed users' information to build profiles on American voters that were later used to help elect US President Donald Trump in 2016.

The plain black text apology on a white background, with only a tiny Facebook logo, ran in prominent positions in six British nationals, including the best-selling Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Times and The Observer - which helped break the story - as well as the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Mr Zuckerberg said an app built by a university researcher "leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014".

"This was a breach of trust, and I'm sorry we didn't do more at the time," Mr Zuckerberg said.

Cambridge Analytica said it initially believed the data had been obtained in line with data protection laws, and later deleted it at Facebook's request. The consultancy said it did not use the data in work it did for the 2016 US election.

On Friday night, investigators from Britain's data watchdog searched the London offices of Cambridge Analytica for several hours.

Mr Zuckerberg, whose firm has lost more than US$50 billion (S$66 billion) in market value since the allegations, said Facebook would give users more information and control about who can access their data.

Advertisers Mozilla and German bank Commerzbank have suspended ads and the hashtag #DeleteFacebook has been trending online.

On Friday, electric carmaker Tesla and its rocket company SpaceX's Facebook pages - each with more than 2.6 million followers - were deleted. - REUTERS

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