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Mark Zuckerberg takes our question

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Today, YouTube grieved in the aftermath of a shooting that left four injured but — mercifully — no on
 
April 4 · Issue #112 · View online
The Interface
Today, YouTube grieved in the aftermath of a shooting that left four injured but — mercifully — no one dead but the shooter. My colleagues put together a comprehensive guide to what happened, the shooter’s suspected motives, the attendant hoaxes and conspiracies and reactions, and how the world reacted. If you’re just catching up, it’s the place to start.
In ordinary times, the day after the shooting would have all of our focus. But as part of a shock-and-awe campaign to wrap its arms around a series of unfolding crises, Facebook hit us with at least five major announcements. Here they are, in bold and in descending order of long-term consequences.
Facebook dramatically limited the amount of data it will share with developers, starting immediately. Here’s my colleague Nick Statt:
Facebook now says it will no longer let apps ask for personal data like religious views, political affiliation, relationship status, custom friends list, education and work history, and activity on fitness, book reading, music listening, news reading, video watching, and game playing. “In the next week, we will remove a developer’s ability to request data people shared with them if it appears they have not used the app in the last three months,” Schroepfer writes, which clarifies when the company’s prior policy change will take effect. This will make it much harder for app developers to use Facebook data to improve their products and integrate more deeply into a user’s online life.
The changes did not stop at those core Facebook APIs. The company is also restricting the Instagram API to disable collection of user follower lists, relationships, and comments on public content. It’s also shutting down the photo-sharing app’s old API ahead of schedule. Originally, the Instagram API Platform was scheduled to be shut down on July 31st.
The number of people affected by the Cambridge Analytica breach is as many as 87 million. Media outlets reported that as many as 50 million people had been affected by the breach. Moreover, a feature that allowed users to search for friends via email address and phone numbers could have resulted in the data of every single Facebook user being scraped by third parties. (That feature was retired as part of today’s API restrictions.) Here’s Todd Haselton:
“We’ve seen some scraping,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters. “I would assume if you had that setting turned on that someone at some point has access to your public information in some way,” he said.
Zuckerberg will testify to Congress next week. Here’s Tony Romm:
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will testify before a key House committee next week, the panel said Wednesday, the first of three potential hearings in which Zuckerberg could face questions about Facebook’s data privacy practices.
The hearing — set before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the morning of April 11 — could result in an uncomfortable grilling from Democrats and Republicans who believe the social giant is responsible for everything from fake news to online extremism.
He’ll also appear before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee on April 10, according to the Times.
Facebook says it will bring the protections of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation to the rest of the world in some form. This contradicts a Reuters story from yesterday that said the opposite, at least in the headline.
Facebook is reducing the amount of data it collects about phone calls and text messages. Here’s Tom Warren:
It was revealed last month that Facebook has been collecting call records and SMS data from Android devices for years. Facebook has been using what it calls an “opt-in feature” to improve its friend recommendation algorithm by requesting access to contacts, SMS data, and call history on Android phones. Facebook users, spooked by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, started downloading their data and were alarmed to find the call history records and SMS data.
Facebook now says it has examined the feature and is making changes to it. “We’ve reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages — and will delete all logs older than one year,” says Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer. It’s not clear why Facebook is deleting older logs, but it’s likely the company wants to limit the amount of data that’s stored on accounts using this feature.
As if that weren’t enough, Facebook held a question-and-answer session with beat reporters in which they could ask Zuckerberg and his deputies about anything. This was, to my mind, Facebook’s best proactive step toward addressing its current crises to date. Zuckerberg effectively communicated that he understands the interlocking nature of issues around data privacy, News Feed integrity, and social media’s effect on democracy. And he spoke for a third longer than planned so he could address more questions. I hope Facebook posts the audio so the world can hear the exchange — Zuckerberg addressed a wide range of the topics we address here each day. 
I sneaked in under the wire and asked the second-to-last question:
With respect to some of the measures you’re putting into place to protect election integrity and reduce fake news, How are evaluating the effectiveness of the changes you’re making, and how will you communicate regarding any wins and losses in the run-up to and aftermath of elections? 
“One of the big things we’re working on now is an effort to be able to share the prevalence of different types of bad content,” Zuckerberg told me. Currently, he said, people only know when bad content is removed if they personally report it or if journalists write about it. In the future, Zuckerberg said, Facebook should share “the prevalence” of different kinds of bad posts: fake news, hate speech, bullying, and terrorism-related content, he said.
But Facebook likely would not do that in real time, he said. “The most important thing there is to make sure the numbers we put out are accurate,” Zuckerberg said. “We wouldn’t be doing anyone a favor by putting out numbers and coming back a quarter later and saying ‘Hey, we messed this up.’” Done right, such reports would “inform public debate and build trust,” he said.
Arguably, public debate would be enhanced even further if voters had a sense of how fake news, hate speech, and other bad posts were shaping the narrative during the campaign. But Zuckerberg seemed to resist the idea of real-time reporting. “The calculation internally is is much better to take a little longer and make sure we’re accurate,” he told me. “I think that’s going to be the way we end up being held accountable.”
Also during the call, Zuckerberg also delivered a line that entered the pantheon of iconic Zuck quotes along with “move fast and break things” and “pretty crazy idea.” Will Oremus asked about Zuckerberg’s own privacy habits and whether he may have used the Kogan app that Cambridge Analytica used to scrape its data.
“I certainly use a lot of apps; I’m a power user of the internet,“ Zuckerberg said.
The Verge is making this into a T-shirt and we’ll let you know when it’s available for purchase.

Democracy
Woman Accused of Shooting 3 at YouTube Had Complained About Company
Everything we know so far about the shooting at YouTube’s headquarters
Google Workers Urge C.E.O. to Pull Out of Pentagon A.I. Project
Elsewhere
“Did We Create This Monster?” How Twitter Turned Toxic
Facebook Scans What You Send to Other People on Messenger App
BlackBerry sues Snapchat for patent infringement after suing Facebook
Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel is coming to Code
Launches
Tinder begins testing its first video feature, Tinder Loops
Takes
Nasim Aghdam’s Massacre Is Part of the Crisis of Big Tech
Twitter Is Almost Useless During Tragedies — And It’s Getting Worse
Facebook Is Unwieldy by Design. It Needs Independent Oversight
The rationalization of publishing
And finally ...
Tinder Is Down, Facebook Is to Blame, and Everybody Is Horny and Losing It
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Tinder matches? casey@theverge.com
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