Mark Zuckerberg admits Facebook scans content of 'private' messages

Facebook Privacy Scandal Unleashes Nationwide 'Litigation Swarm'

After weeks of remaining conspicuously out of sight, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told NPR's Steve Inskeep that she doesn't know if companies other than Cambridge Analytica exploited users' private data without their consent.

With losses totaling around $100 billion in market cap value since the Cambridge Analytica issue came to light, Facebook is doing everything it can to stop the hemorrhaging.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress next week. The app vacuumed up not just the data of the people who took it, but also - thanks to Facebook's loose restrictions - data from their friends, too, including details that they hadn't meant to share publicly.

The scrapers were at it long enough, Zuckerberg said, that "at some point during the last several years, someone has probably accessed your public information in this way".

Sandberg said Facebook also should have been more proactive in dealing with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook launched Messenger as a stand-alone app in 2014.

"That's the kind of thing where I think it is clear that people were trying to use our tools in order to incite real harm". "That, to me, was the failure".

The European Union says Facebook has admitted up to 2.7 million people in the 28-nation bloc may have been victim of improper data sharing involving political data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica. Separately, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and various authorities in Europe are investigating.

Sandberg joined Facebook as second in command in 2008 and was then touted as the adult in the room who would help company co-founder Zuckerberg by bringing management expertise she had gained from six years at Google. Outside experts believe they could have been identity thieves, scam artists or shady data brokers assembling marketing profiles.

Hawley is asking Facebook - going back to January 1, 2012 - to disclose every time it's shared user information with a political campaign or political action committee, how much those campaigns paid Facebook for such data, and whether users were notified.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday on when it discovered the data scraping. But Zuckerberg said the scrapers circumvented that defense by cycling through multiple IP addresses. This may include users' address books on their phones, as well as their call logs and text histories.

But when the company discovered the problem, she said, executives relied on the consulting firm's assurances that it had deleted the data. Shortly before the 87 million number was revealed, Facebook also announced that it would update its terms of service and data policy (pending feedback from users).

Apparently, Facebook scans the links and images that people are sending each other, but also reads chats when they have been flagged by moderators - something that's done to ensure that the content abides by the company's rules, Bloomberg reports.

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