Mark Zuckerberg stood unfazed but apologetic in front of 5,000 people. He wore a blue, long-sleeve shirt and jeans—not his usual color.
“It’s been an intense year,” he said the moment he set foot on stage at Facebook’s 2018 F8 developer conference.
The company he started and is heading has been going through a rough patch in the past few months.
All talks about Facebook had been about reaching new heights, building bridges and fostering relationships.
Then the inevitable happened. Zuckerberg’s brainchild hit a roadblock. It had to deal with clickbait, spam, fake news and data misuse—culminating to the biggest crisis of his company’s 14-year history.
“If you believe, like I do, that giving people a voice is important, that building relationships is important, that creating a sense of community is important, and that doing the hard work of trying to bring the whole world closer together is important, then I say this: We will keep building,” Zuckerberg said at the San Jose, California, event.
Addressing the Scandal
The 33-year-old sets time each year to deliver the keynote at this conference. Here, he talks about his personal and Facebook’s journey during the past year.
The 2018 speech on Tuesday came amid last month’s scandal involving Cambridge Analytica. The digital consultancy firm accessed the data of around 87 million Facebook users unfittingly.
Authorities also questioned Facebook’s part when Russian trolls spread fake news and divisive content on the social network to stir the 2016 US election.
“We will make mistakes. And there will be consequences and we will need to fix them. But what I can guarantee is that, if we don’t work on this, the world isn’t moving in this direction by itself,” Zuckerberg added. His keynote publicly addressed Facebook’s problems on his own terms.
Zuckerberg was on national TV earlier this month to answer queries on Facebook’s recent screwups. The US Congress grilled him for 10 hours in two successive hearings about illegal opioid listings, bias against conservative content, and the genocide in Myanmar.
He was more comfortable on Tuesday—free from the suit and tie worn at Capitol Hill. Business as usual.
What’s Coming Up Next
Though Facebook announced new features for Messenger, Instagram, VR and AR, the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal dwarfed all of these. It goaded the company to bolster up data it often shares with developers and third parties.
Facebook said it stopped working with Acxiom, Experian and other third-party developers.
“Our goal here isn’t to be difficult. It’s only to ensure the small minority of bad actors doesn’t ruin it for everyone,” said Facebook partnerships head Ime Archibong.
Zuckerberg made a New Year’s resolution for Facebook in January. He pledged to fix the platform and address Russian meddling. But the Cambridge Analytica scandal came two and a half months later.
Facebook still managed to beat estimates on its recent earnings report.
Let’s see how he will face new adversities this time around.