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Facebook says users would have to pay to remove targeted ads

Published Apr 6th, 2018 9:06AM EDT
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Image: Ohde Christian/action press/REX/Shutterstock

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A few weeks removed from the revelation that Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired data from upwards of 87 million Facebook users, the social networking giant is still in full-on damage control mode. Alongside a slew of apologies, Mark Zuckerberg this week sat down for an interview on The Ezra Klein Show where he flat-out conceded that it may take Facebook a few years to “dig through this hole.”

“I wish I could solve all these issues in three months or six months,” Zuckerberg said, “but I just think the reality is that solving some of these questions is just going to take a longer period of time.”

Of course, compounding matters is that new mini-scandals seem to be sprouting up with each passing day. Just yesterday, for example, word surfaced that Facebook had a program — which has since been put on hiatus — designed to align patient data from hospitals with corresponding user profiles on the site. And while the underlying goal of the program was to improve patient care, news of the nascent program couldn’t have come at a worse time for the company.

With Facebook still on the defensive, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently sat down for an interview with NBC News that originally aired on the Today show. As you might expect, Sandberg echoed previous statements from other Facebook executives regarding the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

“We were given assurances by them years ago that they deleted the data,” Sandberg said. “We should have followed up. That’s on us. We are trying to do a forensic audit to find out what they have.”

One of the more interesting tidbits from Sandberg’s interview centered on Facebook’s advertising arm. Indeed, Facebook’s ability to provide advertisers with hyper-targeted demographic information is the reason why the company’s platform was such an attractive target for Cambridge Analytica and others in the first place.

Not surprisingly, the current controversy engulfing Facebook won’t do much to limit the ads users see on a day-to-day basis.

When asked point-blank if Facebook would ever provide users with an ability to opt out of targeted advertising, Sandberg didn’t mince words.

“We don’t have an opt-out at the highest level. That would be a paid product.”

When subsequently asked if Facebook would have a business if the company didn’t collect user information, Sandberg eventually stated the obvious: “Our service depends on your data.”

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.