Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data scandal

LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - A top Facebook executive apologised for errors made by the firm and vowed to do more to improve transparency during a four-hour grilling on Thursday from British lawmakers who insisted the company's response to a data scandal had been inadequate.

The CTO said Facebook did not know until previous year that the person it hired to be a social psychology researcher - Joseph Chancellor - had co-founded Global Science Research, the company with Aleksandr Kogan that obtained information on Facebook users via a personality quiz app. Kogan later gave that information to Cambridge Analytica.

The social media giant earlier this week revealed its quarterly results and surely gave CEO Mark Zuckerberg a reason to smile for the first time in a while.

Tighter regulation could make Facebook's ads less lucrative by reducing the kinds of data it can use to personalize and target ads to users, although Facebook's size means it could also be well positioned to cope with regulations.

Schroepfer noted that the personal information of about 87 million users might have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign.

"I understand, he has been getting requests from all over the world to come talk about this", Schroepfer said.

Schroepfer came across as genuine - or at the very least, believable; certainly his assertions about the company's mission were slightly less saccharine, and a lot less robotic, than his boss's efforts in front of US Congress.

Sandberg also played down the suggestion that Facebook might try and follow in the footsteps of media rivals like Netflix or Spotify by exploring a subscription model. And there are plenty more ways for Facebook's advertising business to expand further, such as through the photo-sharing app Instagram.

He added that "similar people" appeared in the accounts and billing information of AIQ and Cambridge Analytica.

More news: Barbara Bush, John Sununu, And "The Joke"

"We didn't take a broad enough view of what our responsibility was and that was a huge mistake".

"Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we've seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way", the company said.

A "view ads" tool will also be rolled out in the United Kingdom by June this year, which will let users see all the ads every advertiser is running on Facebook at the same time.

"You aren't an innocent party wronged by the likes of Cambridge Analytica".

Political adverts on Facebook will have to be labelled as such and display who paid for them, a senior company official has said.

The Silicon Valley company reported a 63 increase in profit and a 49 percent jump in revenue for the first quarter, driven by continued growth in its mobile advertising business.

Facebook made the argument that because GDPR in Europe affects the entire ad industry, it's hard to forecast the repercussions - including on users outside Europe, where Facebook says it's going to roll out the same protections.

"Facebook continues to have a long revenue runway ahead of it", Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note to investors.

While working for major political campaigns, the firm gathered data to develop a mechanism that would predict and influence the behavior of U.S. voters. However, he also said that Facebook's gross margin declined slightly, in part because of video content investment.

  • Rita Burton