Facebook takes out apology ads, they collected text & call logs of users

Mark Zuckerberg during an appearance on CNN's 'Anderson Cooper 360°'
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for his company’s role in allowing user data to be harvested by data firm Cambridge Analytica, which delivered ads targeted to influence the 2016 US presidential elections and the UK Brexit vote. His interviews were too little too late and some users have since disabled or deleted their accounts. A poll conducted by Reuters Sunday found that just 41% of people trust Facebook with their personal information as opposed to Amazon’s trust rating of 66% and Google’s trust rating of 62%. (People trust Amazon more than Google? I guess Amazon has less of our data.)

Facebook took out a full page ad in multiple newspapers Sunday apologizing for the data breach. Here’s a photo of the ad, tweeted by The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr who called out Zuckerberg for not speaking with them. The Guardian helped break this story by publishing interviews with two whistleblowers connected to Cambridge Analytica, so it’s significant that Zuckerberg refused to talk to them.

Here’s what the ad said:

We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.

You may have heard about a quiz app built by a university researcher that 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. We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

We’ve already stopped apps like this from getting so much information. Now we’re limiting the data apps get when you sign in using Facebook.

We’re also investigating every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others. And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.

Finally, we’ll remind you of which apps you’ve given access to your information — so you can shut off the ones you don’t want anymore.

Thank you for believing in this community. I promise to do better for you.

Mark Zuckerberg

[via Techcrunch]

These were Zuckerberg’s talking points during his interviews and they come across much better and more sincere in print. He’s not particularly relatable. I doubt this will do much to restore faith in the service. Their stock has taken a big hit following this scandal and it remains to be seen whether it will recover.

The Federal Trade Commission confirmed on Monday that it has opened a non-public investigation into Facebook. I would assume Facebook had a heads up about this before they issued the apology ads.

As users delete their Facebook accounts, some Android users are finding that Facebook kept log records of their personal phone calls and texts – even when they didn’t have the Facebook app installed. These are phone calls and texts people made outside of Facebook. Apparently this only affects Android phones with specific operating systems prior to 2017. Apple phones do not allow access to this data. Here is a link to Facebook’s statement about this. They claim they only have access to logs, not the actual texts or calls, and that users opted in to this when they installed Messenger. Several people who spoke to Ars Technica say that they did not have Messenger on their phones when this data was collected.

This Twitter thread focuses more on Google than Facebook. Now I know why people trust Amazon more.

Embed from Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg during an appearance on CNN's 'Anderson Cooper 360°'

Photos credit: WENN, Getty and Twitter

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34 Responses to “Facebook takes out apology ads, they collected text & call logs of users”

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  1. RedOnTheHead says:

    I don’t believe a word that falls out of this douche nozzles mouth.

  2. Oliphant says:

    Zuckerberg has the gormless, douchey kind of ‘bro’ face I want to smack.

    I’m sick of people/corporations apologising when they do something wrong, and thinking that’s sufficient.You know what?! JUST DON’T DO STUFF THAT YOU’LL INEVITABLY NEED TO APOLOGISE FOR.

  3. gingersnaps says:

    I deleted facebook app several years ago as I found it too intrusive, logging on to the desktop browser is already intrusive enough especially if you’ve got the ticker on and you can see everyone’s activities, it’s a stalker’s paradise.
    I wasn’t going to give them another avenue to do that through their app. I didn’t want to install the messenger app but since they disabled being able to check messages on a mobile safari/firefox browser I reluctantly installed it again to keep in touch with people/companies that I interact with. I regularly check that my settings and privacy is set tight. I don’t answer all those seemingly fun/silly questions that pops up on the left hand side of the about me page as I’m wary of giving them more data about me.

    • LAK says:

      The problem isn’t that your settings are set private, the problem is that FB actively allows any and all apps to collect your data and anyone linked to you who isn’t on FB.

      I’m not on social media. I limit my online activity to 4 websites including this one.

      And yet, I found that because all my relatives are on FB via their phones, FB had access to my phone/ contacts list/ and everything I store in my phone eg pictures. There are millions of people like me in this predicament.

      No more smug face from me about not being hacked via social media.

      Now where can I sue?

    • Deanna says:

      Gingersnaps, I use the internet app that came with my android, so I’m not sure if safari/firefox is the same — but if I go to Facebook on my phones internet, click my browser options (top right), and press “request pc mode”, I’m able to bypass having to download Messenger. It always opens the app store to encourage me to download it, which is annoying, but if I exit out I can then access my Facebook PMs without downloading Messenger.

      Of course, having Facebook at all is invasive, but I dislike Messenger more…

      • gingersnaps says:

        Hi LAK, no I’m not being smug. I’m just stating what I do to protect my information the best way I know how. I am aware that they sell people’s information and data as it’s not a free service and they must get their money elsewhere.

        Deanna, I don’t get that option on my iPhone. When they disabled being able to read and respond to messages, it would connect me to the app store to prompt me to install it. It was a pain. I resisted installing it for several years since they started pushing messenger more and more. The only way for me to view my messages without the messenger app would be to go on my laptop and access my account there and it’s a hassle as I’m not on my laptop all the time. I don’t like facebook but at the same time, it connects me to family and friends who are scattered all over the world, I just try to be cautious about the info that I post.

  4. mamacita says:

    exactly why I left facebook four years ago. it always seemed they were using vanity and ego to steal people’s souls.

  5. perplexed says:

    What’s up with his face lately? He’s aging strangely.

  6. klc says:

    Facebook got caught. There are probably 100′s of other ways our data has been stolen and/or sold to the highest bidder.

    There will be other stories that surface and Facebook will again say they will do better. Over and over until Facebook is finally finished.

  7. Hummus says:

    Like others, I deleted Facebook some time ago. I caved and reactivated a few times but now I am done for good!

  8. QueenB says:

    Facebooks whole business model is selling data. They cant change in that sense. So do not believe what they are saying now.

  9. Lela says:

    This whole cyber age is pretty scary. I just got rid of all my social media but do all my shopping on Amazon and have my gmail account. It’s so scary how much information these companies get from us.

    • LAK says:

      Amazon is part owned by a spy agency. It was acquired in a deal that involved the Washington post. The owner of Amazon also got a seat on the defence council of the Pentagon.

      Something Amazon doesn’t mention in their ads.

      The day I found out, I deleted my Amazon account. Too late for the information they already have, but I’m damned if I’m going to make it easy for them.

      And I don’t care about the inconvenience of shopping in person at all the various stores now that I can’t order items via Amazon.

      • Lela says:

        For me it’s the selection, there are a lot of things that I can’t buy in person where I live and Amazon gives me that selection. I also love Amazon’s original shows, I haven’t turned Netflix on in ages, I’ve been really loving Amazon original series.

  10. lower-case deb says:

    it’s not Zuckerberg on the hot seat, but this take down gives me second hand satisfaction. Singapore seems to be one of the few countries authoritarian enough to not bend over backwards to cater to them.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uxySD4rKuvw

  11. Nopity Nope says:

    The entire business model of Facebook (and many other social media companies) is based on monetization of user data. That is how they get advertising dollars to fund the entire company. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle, save for regulations that require Facebook and others to publicly disclose their use of user data.

    Even with the right regulatory oversight, the company will take a financial hit. Be it from advertising or from their stock valuation, they will not be able to make the kind of money they’ve been making for the last 10+ years.

    This has ripple effects across tech, btw. Facebook is a major customer of many tech companies – they have to buy their data center equipment from someone, for example. If FB starts hoarding cash and not spending on CapEx, those companies who sell to FB (and other platform companies) will also see a hit to their revenue as well.

    The entire tech industry is propped up on monetization of data. This is not just a Facebook problem, it’s an industry-wide wake up call.

  12. Andreia says:

    I have facebook but mostly to see what is up with people I rarely keep in contact with. I haven’t posted in years and i refuse to click on any quizzes or articles. But many years ago when facebook first started a friend of mine refused to get an account and still will not because of this exact scenario. Many website do this, more then we probably realize. Haven’t you searched for a product and all the sudden every ad is what you were searching. Its very creepy.

  13. FLORC says:

    Yea… this was honestly known for ages. It just wasn’t applied to current news like Cambridge Analyt and ICE. Why I’m still glad this site doesn’t have a like button.

    The privacy issues are real everywhere. Apple over android if you have priorities of information needing protection.

  14. The New Classic says:

    uh guys? Speaking of our info being out there without our knowledge or consent, I came across a twitter thread from user Dylan Curran (@Iamdylancurran) from the 24th of this month that absolutely horrified me. He broke down all the info that Google has on each user. We are talking location services tracked on your phone, pictures you look up and save, websites you visit and more. I had no idea of the scope of it, and now I want to run away to a deserted island and toss my smartphone in the ocean. Seriously, check it out, it really is a horrifying revelation.

  15. Veronica says:

    Color me unsurprised. This was the same company who basically used their users as psychological guinea pigs for mood advertisements a few years back by exploiting the fine print in the agreement. There’s no such thing as online privacy.

  16. Her Higness says:

    it is truly scary to know we are the first line ginuea pigs in this cyber era. imagine how many of our rights have been violated. I wonder what form on media will dominate the world in 250 years. its reallly mind boggling.

  17. adastraperaspera says:

    Apologize all you want, Zuck. Doesn’t give you a pass from being prosecuted.

  18. Frosty says:

    It’s not called Faceborg for nothing. There’s a degree of social cost to not being on FB, but I’m glad I went with my gut – never trusted these jerks taking our info and selling it to whoever wants it really.

  19. Margo S. says:

    I deleted Facebook over ten years ago. I thought it was very strange how much information people were putting on it… plus i had a boyfriend (now husband) who was in IT and just thought it was too easy to find loopholes and hack into it. He was right.

  20. Stevie says:

    And he has refused to attend the Commons in a request by British MP’s. He is just sending some PR lackeys instead.

    I always despised him, at least now I have a really good reason.

  21. Bee says:

    Facebook offer a free service to the end user. However you don’t create a billion dollar monster out of nothing. Your data and your eyes on carefully selected advertising is EVERYTHING. I don’t know why people are so shocked. Whether it’s political statements or trying to get you to buy orange juice it’s all the same to them. Monetising your weaknesses.

  22. Nic919 says:

    It’s not just Facebook though. Twitter, Snapchat, instagram, etc are all selling their user information. And if it’s not to commercial entities, it is also to the NSA and other related entities. This is how social media companies make money. People are the products.

  23. karent3 says:

    You forgot to mention 0 did the same thing.

  24. Felicia says:

    Those online DNA testing companies do the same thing. 23andMe has come right out and said they make their money off of selling your DNA data. And just to make that even creepier, one of the early investors in that was Google.

  25. SKF says:

    I actually find the outrage kind of amusing because I thought people knew these companies had all their data? I mean they openly tell you they are tapping into it when you download the app and then when you download other apps within that app. They ask your permission. The level of access is easy to work out. I’m glad they’re getting a hammering for CA and similar instances but I was never under any illusions about how much data they have on me. I don’t have much to hide and I’m pretty savvy on news, links, ads, etc they send my way (I have worked in social media marketing before and once did a course on tracing the sources and owners of websites, internet info, etc). I am not particularly happy about them on-selling but as long as they keep my data relatively private and secure it’s a trade-off I’m okay with because I travel full-time for work and it’s the easiest way to stay in touch with everyone. The amount of information Google and Facebook have on us all is insane. This is the trade-off of being online and connected.