During his meeting with the Conference of Presidents, Mark Zuckerberg answered a wide range of questions in the time given to him. Here are answers to many of the questions he was not able to get to in the time available and we will follow up with any remaining questions.
1. Facebook has admitted to creating “shadow profiles” of people who surf the web but don’t have a Facebook account. Is avoiding the internet entirely the only way to prevent Facebook from collecting my data?
Any website or app you visit will need to collect some information in order for features on them to work. Facebook is no different. In addition, apps and websites that use one of our services — for example, a Like button, Facebook Login or our analytics and ads products — will send information to Facebook when you visit them. This data is used both to provide features such as Like buttons and aggregate reports about the way people are using these websites or apps, to show ads about Facebook, and for security as well as product improvements. This blog post has more information about how this works. This information is not used to create profiles on non-Facebook users.
2. What do you do with the data from non-Facebook users?
We use information that apps and websites send to us when you visit them to provide our services, like Facebook Analytics, which provides aggregate data about how that app or website is used, as well as the Like button and other social plugins. Apps and websites may also choose to display ads from Facebook. Should a non-Facebook user visit those apps or sites, we do not show targeted ads from our advertisers to them or otherwise seek to personalise the content they see. However we may take the opportunity to show an ad encouraging the non-user to sign up for Facebook. We also use information we receive to protect the security of Facebook. For example, if a browser has visited hundreds of sites in the last five minutes, that’s a sign the device might be a bot.
3. If you do that, is it morally acceptable do you think to collect non-facebook users' data without them knowing what you do with it?
4. Is a non-Facebook user able to see the data that’s been collected? If not, why not?
If you don't use Facebook, you can ask for any information we store about you via a form in the Facebook Help Centre. We ask you to specify what you want before we provide any information. But as we explained in answer (1) we don't create profiles on non-Facebook users.
5. European courts have demanded the separation of users' data between Facebook and WhatsApp. Will you promise there won't be any exchange of users' personal data between the two services?
No, because we will share data between Facebook and WhatsApp in order for Facebook to provide services like tools and analytics to WhatsApp and to help fight abuse on our services. For example, when we receive reports of a bad actor sending unwanted messages — like spam or abusive content — on either WhatsApp or Facebook, we can share information and can take action including blocking them across both services. We are not currently sharing European users' WhatsApp account information to improve people's product and ads experience on Facebook. If we do choose to do this in the future, we will do so in accordance with GDPR, working with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and in a way that is transparent to people. More information is available here.
6. Will you commit that no Facebook user or future Facebook user has to give consent for the processing of personal data more than what is necessary to use the service?
As part of the GDPR process, Facebook asks people to make choices about three things: ads based on data from partners; sensitive information they share in their profile (like religious or political views), and face recognition. We do not make consent to these a condition of using Facebook — in other words you can choose whatever you want and still use our service. And you can change those choices at any time via our updated Settings. We also ask people to agree to our updated terms of service to continue using Facebook. We're clear with people about the services Facebook offers and how they work, and people can control their experience.
7. Will Facebook develop a mode of operation that allows Facebook users to completely opt out of targeted advertising?
For every ad we show, we give you the option to find out why you're seeing that ad and an option to turn off ads from that advertiser entirely. You can also manage what type of ads you see by going to your ad preferences. There you can opt-out of: targeting based on your interests and certain profile fields (e.g., relationship status); seeing ads based on information we have received from other websites and apps you use; and using your Facebook interests to show ads on other websites and apps. There is no ads free option — and people mostly tell us that if they are going to see ads they'd rather those ads were useful and relevant. We don't tell advertisers who you are; and we don't sell your data.
8. In respect to Cambridge Analytica, will you compensate European Facebook users per Article 82 of GDPR?
This was clearly a breach of trust. However, it’s important to remember that no bank account details, credit card information or national ID numbers were shared. Most people gave the app at issue here access to information like their public profile as well their page likes, friend list and birthday. It was the same for friends' whose settings allowed sharing. In addition, Aleksandr Kogan, the app developer in this case, contracted to sell the information of people in the US – not people in the EU – to Cambridge Analytica and Kogan himself testified that he only transferred the data of US users. We have seen no evidence that Kogan shared data about European users with them. And we will conduct a forensic audit of Cambridge Analytica, which we hope to complete as soon as we are authorized by the UK’s Information Commissioner.
9. Is Cambridge Analytica an isolated case? Can you guarantee that another scandal will not happen in three, six, nine months’ time?
We've been clear that other apps could have misused people's data before we tightened our policies in 2014. For example, in national newspaper ads in March we said, “We expect there are others.” It's why Mark made clear in his opening statement that “we’re investigating every app that had access to large amounts of information before we locked down the platform in 2014. Where we have concerns, we’ll suspend the app and conduct an audit — and where we conclude data was misused, we’ll ban the app completely and tell anyone affected.”
Anti-trust and Competition
10. Will you cooperate with the European antitrust authorities?
We are happy to address any questions the European competition authorities may have.
11. If you have to split off, for example, Facebook Messenger, to give you an example, and WhatsApp, and to keep then Instagram, should that be a good deal for you, that you could accept?
As Mark said yesterday, people have many choices about how they spend time online — and advertisers have lots of options, too. The average person uses eight different apps to communicate and stay connected. And in Germany, for example, almost half of social media users do not use Facebook at all — instead using the many other messaging, photo or video sharing apps which have launched in the last few years. On the advertising side, Facebook accounts for just 6% of a $650 billion market. We're also seeing lots of innovation, which typically does not happen in markets without competition.
There are also many consumer benefits to Messenger and WhatsApp being part of Facebook. For example, by working together we have been able to significantly improve safety across all these services. When we receive reports of a bad actor sending unwanted messages, spam or abusive or illegal content (for example images of the sexual exploitation of children), on any of our apps, we can take action across all services.