Cape Times - - FOCUS -

FACE­BOOK chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Zucker­berg ques­tioned the busi­ness case for giv­ing mil­lions of out­side soft­ware de­vel­op­ers wide ac­cess to cus­tomer data be­fore en­dors­ing the prac­tice in 2012, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­nal emails pub­lished on Wed­nes­day. The de­ci­sion made it pos­si­ble for a quiz app to gather data on about 87 mil­lion Face­book users the fol­low­ing year, and later share the in­for­ma­tion with the now-de­funct Bri­tish po­lit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica, which worked on Don­ald Trumps’ pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Zucker­berg lamented his choice in a Face­book post on Wed­nes­day, say­ing that crack­ing down a year ear­lier could have helped the com­pany avoid a pri­vacy scan­dal that has tarred its rep­u­ta­tion. The chief ex­ec­u­tive’s 2012 emails, ob­tained by a Bri­tish gov­ern­ment panel in­ves­ti­gat­ing Face­book, pro­vide an un­usual win­dow into the in­ter­nal de­lib­er­a­tions over the crit­i­cal strate­gic ques­tion of how much cus­tomer data the so­cial net­work should share. Face­book had re­cently gone pub­lic and was count­ing on third-party apps such as games to help drive growth. But Zucker­berg ques­tioned whether such apps and the data they sent back to Face­book were pro­duc­ing suf­fi­cient in­creases in us­age and rev­enue. “In the­ory, we want in­for­ma­tion, but are the posts de­vel­op­ers are giv­ing us ac­tu­ally valu­able?” Zucker­berg wrote in re­sponse to a lengthy email from a lieu­tenant. A pro­posed al­ter­na­tive was charg­ing apps for ac­cess to Face­book user data, though such a move would have likely lim­ited the num­ber of apps that worked with Face­book, Zucker­berg wrote in one mes­sage. Face­book stayed the course, with Zucker­berg re­ject­ing fees in late 2012. | Reuters

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