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A wild Sheryl Sandberg appears

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Yesterday Mark Zuckerberg took an hour's worth of questions from reporters on topics including data p
 
April 5 · Issue #113 · View online
The Interface
Yesterday Mark Zuckerberg took an hour’s worth of questions from reporters on topics including data privacy, election integrity, fake news, and internet power usage. He outlined a series of announcements that Facebook made yesterday related to protecting user data by restricting developer access to the platform. And amid questions about whether anyone had been fired over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he made clear that the buck stopped with him:
At the end of the day, this is my responsibility. So there have been a bunch of questions about that. I started this place. I run it. And I am responsible for what happens here. To the question before, I still think that I’m going to do the best job to help run it going forward. I’m not looking to throw anyone else under the bus for mistakes that we’ve made here.
Today, after saying exceedingly little about the Cambridge Analytica scandal to date, COO Sheryl Sandberg made the rounds to tell various reporters that the buck … also? … stopped with her.
“I take responsibility for this,” she said. “The buck stops with us. The buck stops with me. On the things we didn’t do that we should’ve done that are under my purview, that’s my responsibility and I own that.”
“I feel deeply personally responsible, because there were mistakes we made.
“We made mistakes and I own them and they are on me,” Ms Sandberg said. “There are operational things that we need to change in this company and we are changing them . . . We have to learn from our mistakes and we need to take action.”
All of this left me feeling rather confused.
For starters, it felt a bit late. It might have been more productive to make these comments sometime around March 20th, when the Cambridge Analytica story had been roiling for four days and neither Zuckerberg nor Sandberg had addressed it. Or Sandberg could have appeared jointly with Zuckerberg the next day, when he sat for an interview with CNN. Sandberg is Facebook’s chief business officer, after all, and some of her hardest work sits at the intersection of advertiser demands and user safety.
At other companies, demands for the COO to speak would have been less intense. But Facebook has worked hard to promote Sandberg as a visionary leader and an equal partner to Zuckerberg as he spreads the company’s gospel around the world. (As I reported in February, Facebook polls on Sandberg’s likability and tests the messages in her public speeches.)
Sandberg posted a pair of short messages about the issue in March. She uses the pronounces "we” and “you,” but never “I.” I’m sure Sandberg has been deeply involved in the response to the company’s data privacy issues, but she has said almost nothing about how. 
And after a full day of interviews, we don’t know much more than that she feels sorry about the whole thing. She took ownership over the breach of trust, but only a day after her CEO did it first. It all felt unsatisfying. If Zuckerberg and Sandberg want to own the data privacy issues jointly, they could have apologized together. The day-late, dollar-short media tour didn’t advance our thinking on the subject very much. 
Over on Twitter, I asked why Facebook would send Sandberg out for a second-day apology mission. I got lots of responses, most of them quite cynical. My favorite arrived via DM from someone who must remain anonymous:
Sheryl is stumping for the same reason Zuck did a worldwide yesterday — in a nonstop news world, you take the life out of a story by repeating it. Let’s have a drinking game where next week in Congress he says things like ‘As we have said,’ and 'Last week we announced.’ The Congresspeople are supposed to feel like steps have been taken, the reporters are supposed to feel like they have nothing new to write. It kills the play.
In other words, perhaps being boring and late was the plan. Will it mollify Congress? We’ll know in just a few days.

Democracy
How the Government Could Fix Facebook
Why AI isn’t going to solve Facebook’s fake news problem
Kremlin calls Facebook's removal of Russian media accounts censorship
Twitter says it did everything it could to fight YouTube shooting hoaxes
Twitter has suspended more than 1.2 million terrorism-related accounts since late 2015
Robert Mercer backed a secretive group that worked with Facebook, Google to target anti-Muslim ads at swing voters
3.6m Asian Facebook users may have had harvested data passed on to Cambridge Analytica
Cambridge Analytica denies accessing data on 87M Facebook users…claims 30M – TechCrunch
Checking in with the Facebook fact-checking partnership
Elsewhere
Facebook Building 8 explored data sharing agreement with hospitals
Facebook: ‘Malicious actors’ used its tools to discover identities and collect data on a massive global scale
Facebook receives accreditation in long-awaited metrics audit
Facebook rewrote its terms of service and data policies
Hard Questions: Q&A with Mark Zuckerberg on Protecting People’s Information
Zuckerberg: Balancing Facebook's Business and Community Is 'Quite Easy'
Tech companies aim for easy access over brawny security at offices
Launches
Facebook is putting AR experiences on Ready Player One posters
3 tests show Facebook is determined to make Stories the default
Tap Bio’s mini-sites solve Instagram’s profile link problem
Takes
Don’t Fix Facebook. Replace It.
Why Have We Soured on the ‘Devil’s Advocate’?
Facebook Private Messages Aren't Exactly Private
Thank you
I decided to write the newsletter after obsessively reading Ben Thompson’s for two years. Ben was kind enough to recommend The Interface to his readers today, and it meant the world to me. Thanks to Ben and everyone else who has shared this newsletter over its first six months.
And finally ...
Why That ‘American Chopper’ Meme Is So Hard to Read
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? casey@theverge.com

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