Mozilla says it won’t advertise on Facebook until it sees proof that the social media giant has tightened data-privacy controls. This is the latest fallout from news that a political data-mining site improperly acquired data from 50 million Facebook profiles.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says his company is redoubling efforts to safeguard users’ data. He spoke out yesterday for the first time about how Cambridge Analytica, a political data mining firm, got the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their permission. Here he is last night on CNN.
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MARK ZUCKERBERG: This is going to be an intensive process, but this is important. I mean, this is something that in retrospect we clearly should have done upfront with Cambridge Analytica. We should not have trusted the certification that they gave us. And we’re not going to make that mistake again.
CORNISH: Congress is still demanding hearings. Facebook shares are still on a rollercoaster, and at least one advertiser is having second thoughts. Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, says it is pressing pause on its Facebook ads. Mozilla chief marketing officer Jascha Kaykas-Wolff joins us now to explain why. Welcome to the program.
JASCHA KAYKAS-WOLFF: Thank you for having me.
CORNISH: So on the one hand, you call Mark Zuckerberg’s promises encouraging. And on the other hand, you say you want to hit pause on ads. What’s going on?
KAYKAS-WOLFF: That’s right. Well, over the course of this week, Mozilla has done two things. First, we’ve launched a petition that is rallying a group of people who we represent that use our products and use Facebook as well to encourage Facebook to start to take a look at their default privacy settings. In addition to that, we also, as a marketing organization, have decided to support this petition that we have generally. So as of yesterday, we’ve paused our advertising on Facebook.
CORNISH: So how much does Mozilla spend on advertising through Facebook? I mean, what kind of impact are we talking about here?
KAYKAS-WOLFF: So while we make a product, Firefox, that tens and hundreds of millions of people use every day all over the world, we are not the same size as Google and Microsoft and Apple. And our advertising budget is much smaller. That being said, Facebook has made up a large percentage of our advertising spend over the course of the last few years, in the low seven-digit numbers in particular.
CORNISH: You’ve suggested a blanket ban on third parties accessing information of their Facebook friends – right? – of people who use the app. Is anyone else joining you in that call?
KAYKAS-WOLFF: Well, the discussion is just beginning, and that’s what we’re encouraged by.
CORNISH: Is that a no?
KAYKAS-WOLFF: In fact, we began our…
CORNISH: (Laughter) Does that usually mean that nobody has called, no one’s picked up the phone?
KAYKAS-WOLFF: (Laughter) Well, very specifically, we are in discussions with Facebook.
CORNISH: What have they told you?
KAYKAS-WOLFF: Those are ongoing discussions, and we’ll kind of leave those to the teams that are working through the policy and ultimately what’s being said publicly. But we’re really encouraged that the actions that we’ve taken have prompted discussions that we think can ultimately benefit end users.
CORNISH: What would be a measure of success or moving the ball forward? What do you need to see from Facebook in order to feel like a difference is being made?
KAYKAS-WOLFF: We’d like to see public clarity around the way that they’re going to handle users’ data on their platform in the default settings. So success for us is making sure that users are being – people are being represented well and that their data is being protected first and foremost.
CORNISH: It seems like this is part of the business model, right? Essentially, we want to use the service. We give up data. And then people in the industry get to turn around and sell that data. I mean, is there a solution here that doesn’t disrupt the business model?
KAYKAS-WOLFF: Well, there’s a responsibility of technology companies to make sure they represent exactly what is taking place with their data to their users. And it’s not completely clear across the board right now. Think of the times that you or I have hit agree on terms of service without having actually read all those details.
It’s time, we believe, for technology companies to really represent the best interest of the users. It’s OK to exchange data, especially if it’s a core part of your business model. But it’s really important to be upfront about exactly what information is being shared and exactly what you’re going to be doing with it.
CORNISH: Jascha Kaykas-Wolff is the chief marketing officer for Mozilla. Thank you for speaking with us.
KAYKAS-WOLFF: Thanks very much for having me.
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