Facebook continues to deal with the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica files, announcing policy changes and bug fixes aimed at undoing some of the company’s more controversial data collection features.
On Monday, Facebook apologised for storing draft videos which users had filmed and then deleted, saying a “bug” resulted in them being indefinitely stored instead.
The bug was first reported last week after users discovered videos they had never posted were being stored by the company. The storage was only uncovered when those users attempted to download all the data the company had on them, and were startled to find that Facebook had stored unused draft videos for years.
Videos filmed using the company’s desktop web camera tool, popular in the late 00s and early 10s before Facebook fully embraced mobile, were stored even when users thought they had deleted them. The company apologised, telling TechCrunch that was a mistake: “We discovered a bug that prevented draft videos from being deleted. We are deleting them and apologise for the inconvenience.”
The company is also changing another feature, part of its ad ecosystem that allows third-parties to upload contact lists to target customers on Facebook, in order to better preserve user privacy.
The feature, Custom Audiences, is intended to allow companies who have customer lists offline to advertise to those same customers on Facebook – by, for example, uploading a list of emails and matching them to Facebook profiles. Now, Facebook will be requiring companies to certify that they obtained user consent to use the information in that specific way, according to a leaked email seen by TechCrunch.
A new tool will instead require advertisers to actively certify that they have permission. “We’ve always had terms in place to ensure that advertisers have consent for data they use but we’re going to make that much more prominent and educate advertisers on the way they can use the data,” Facebook told the tech news site.
Finally, in a wide-ranging interview with the website Vox on Monday, Mark Zuckerberg hit back at Apple chief executive Tim Cook, who had attacked Facebook’s business model for inevitably leading to the sort of data-based scandals the company is now tackling. “I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth,” Zuckerberg said.
“The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people.”