- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested most people don’t care about one of the most invasive features on Facebook.
- He said the vast majority of users who were prompted to look at their privacy settings actively opted in to let Facebook track them on apps and other websites to information its targeted ads.
- He made his comments in Paris just a day before Europe’s strict new privacy legislation was due to kick in on May 25.
This is the week that Facebook ought to be dreading, when European legislation gives millions of users the power to say “No thanks” to the social network’s most invasive data gathering features.
But according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, most people don’t care and are perfectly happy with Facebook scraping data from apps they use and sites they visit to inform its targeted advertising.
The pro-privacy legislation in question is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, and it kicks in on May 25.
The new law is designed to give web users much greater control about what companies do with their information. For Facebook, that means explicitly asking users’ permission about gathering certain types of data about them and using it for ad targeting. Privacy activists decry this kind of tracking and say it’s both unnecessary and that most users aren’t aware of how much data they’re giving up.
Zuckerberg pointed to Facebook’s GDPR privacy prompts that ask people if they’re OK with the social network gathering data from apps and sites that are not Facebook to inform targeted ads. And he said largely, most people opt in.
“We’ve been rolling out GDPR flows for a number of weeks now in order to make sure we were doing this in a good way and so that we could take into account everyone’s feedback before the May 25 deadline,” he said. “And one of the things that I found interesting is that the vast majority of people choose to opt in to make it so we can use the data from other apps and websites they’re using to make ads better. The reality is that if you’re going to see ads in a service, you want them to be relevant and good ads.”
Zuckerberg was speaking at the VivaTech conference in Paris, where numerous Silicon Valley CEOs have gathered to meet French President Emmanuel Macron. The Facebook chief also faced European politicians in Tuesday in Brussels to apologise for the firm’s mishandling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
It’s unlikely lawmakers will be impressed by his comments, but the data seems to bear Zuckerberg out. Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank found that the Cambridge Analytica scandal barely had an impact on people’s use of Facebook, and that usage of the social network actually went up.