Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Responds to Data Breach, Welcomes Regulation

Sheryl Sandberg_Screengrab - Screengrab - H 2018

One day after CEO Mark Zuckerberg went on a media blitz, the COO apologized for letting down users.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is apologizing to users for allowing their private data to be compromised. 

"I'm so sorry that we let people down," she told CNBC's Julia Boorstin on Thursday. 

Sandberg's apology came five days after reports revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm with ties to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, had used the data of more than 50 million Facebook users to sway voter sentiment. In the days since the reveal, Facebook has come under fire for leaving user data unprotected from companies like Cambridge Analytica, and its executives have faced scrutiny over their initial silence. 

Sandberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke out about the incident for the first time on Wednesday. In a post on the social media platform, Zuckerberg disclosed the timeline that led Cambridge Analytica to obtain user data and outlined the steps that Facebook will now take to prevent such breaches from happening in the future. 

On Wednesday night, Zuckerberg went on a media blitz, sitting down for interview with CNN, Wired, Recode and The New York Times in an effort to quell concerns over user privacy. In the interview with CNN, he revealed that Facebook will review thousands of apps that had access to user data prior to 2014, when Facebook blocked apps from mining such information. "This is going to be an intensive process, but this is important," he said. 

Sandberg, on Thursday, backed up Zuckerberg's comments and stressed that Facebook is prioritizing users over its business. But when asked about whether Facebook could confidently say that it would prevent people from misusing the platform, she responded, "We built a platform that's used for a lot of good all around the word, but there will always be bad actors. ... It's our job to prevent that." 

One theme of both Zuckerberg's and Sandberg's comments over the past two days is their acceptance of eventual government regulation. Zuckerberg indicated that it wasn't a question of whether to regulate but what to regulate, and Sandberg said, "We're open to regulation. We work with lawmakers all over the world." 

Sandberg also acknowledged that Facebook was slow to respond to the Cambridge Analytica reveal. "Sometimes, and I would say certainly this past week, we speak too slowly," she said. "If I could live this past week again, I would have definitely had Mark and myself out speaking earlier."