Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said Thursday (April 5) that if Facebook users want to opt out of targeted ads, they may have to pay for that ability.
According to NBC News, Sandberg told “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie that it would be a paid product to get out of that type of targeted advertising, which is the business model of the company. Sandberg said the social media network operator doesn’t sell or give away data on its users, but that its service “depends on data.” She said went on to say the company doesn’t have an opt-out “at the highest level. That would be a paid product,” according to NBC. Facebook said after the interview that the company doesn’t have a pay model for its social network and that Sandberg was speaking in hypothetical terms.
During the interview, the Facebook executive took responsibility, saying the company mishandled the data breach that enabled Cambridge Analytica to access the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent. Cambridge Analytica used the data to target Facebook customers during the run-up to the Presidential election in the U.S. “It is definitely the case in 2016 that we were behind and we didn’t understand that kind of election interference,” Sandberg said. “We thought that the data had been deleted, and you’re right, we should have checked.” Sandberg noted that some of the steps Facebook is taking to better protect users’ data include letting them opt out of sharing a portion — but not all — their data and choosing which advertisers users get ads from. Sandberg is in a media blitz ahead of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress next week, giving interviews with media outlets.
It comes as the company announced this week that “malicious actors” were able to use search tools to discover the identities and collect information on most of its 2 billion users worldwide. The news came on the same day that the social media site admitted that data improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica could be much higher than the originally estimated 50 million users. In fact, Facebook now says that up to 87 million users may have had their data shared with the research firm. According to The Washington Post, the abuse of Facebook’s search tools, which are now disabled, happened on a broader scale and over several years. Even worse: few Facebook users were probably able to avoid the scam, company officials stated.