Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg gave a revealing interview this week with technology news site Recode's Kara Swisher that made headlines around the world. The in-depth 90-minute podcast covered everything from the Cambridge Analytica scandals to Russian interference in the US elections.
Russian interference probable
Swisher began by asking the CEO about the latest Trump/Putin press conference. Zuckerberg replied he had seen the coverage and added that his platform believed Russian interference did indeed take place during the election.
"Well, the evidence that we’ve seen is quite clear, that the Russians did try to interfere with the election. We’ve tried to cooperate with the government and the different investigations that are going on," said Zuckerberg.
The tech genius said his team had identified a Russian military intelligence hacking group called APT28 getting access to people’s accounts and had notified the FBI. Zuckerberg added he felt they were, however, too slow in recognizing coordinated information operations by other groups but that, since then, they have implemented a roadmap to deal with such threats.
The interviewer pressed the CEO as to what took him so long to identify these dangers. Zuckerberg responded that it was a question of both his team being too idealistic and the fact that these nefarious activities are also relatively new.
"I do think it’s fair to say that we were probably… we were too focused on just the positives and not focused enough on some of the negatives. That said, I don’t want to leave the impression that we didn’t care about security or didn’t have thousands of people working on it before then. This was a new thing," explained the CEO.
The young leader also explained why his platform gave a certain amount of leniency even to views he finds deeply offensive such as those expressed by Holocaust deniers. "It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly," said Zuckerberg.
His remarks on that matter attracted backlash that resulted in the CEO later issuing a statement to the site to clarify his words. "I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that (the Holocaust)," wrote Zuckerberg.
"But look, I designed the platform, so if someone’s going to get fired for this, it should be me."
Swisher also asked Zuckerberg if anyone should have been fired for the Cambridge Analytica scandal for which the CEO took full responsibility. "But look, I designed the platform, so if someone’s going to get fired for this, it should be me," he said.
Swisher pressed on asking Zuckerberg if he would actually fire himself. "Not on this podcast right now," answered the CEO.
The rest of the podcast saw Zuckerberg clarify that Facebook does not sell data, discuss the site's current ban in China and explain what he calls his "responsibility to build the things that give people a voice and help people connect."