Facebook takes data privacy seriously, says executive

‘We need to improve our policies,’ Patrick Walker says

17:29 April 3, 2018
 Patrick Walker, director of Media Partnerships EMEA, Facebook

Dubai: With the biggest social media platform comes some of the world’s largest online responsibility, said a senior Facebook official on Tuesday at the Arab Media Forum.

Speaking in a 20-minute session titled ‘Facebook: Changing the Media Landscape’, Patrick Walker, director of Media Partnerships EMEA, Facebook, said technology has drastically changed the way the world connects and stories are told.

However, as technology becomes more powerful, it may create too much opportunity for people to use technology for negative means.

“Facebook news feed which is only ten years old, began as only text, then photos and videos as well and now you can upload from anywhere in the world, You can shoot 360 virtual reality images straight from your phone to an audience of about two billion people,” he said.

He added that while this is remarkable, it also creates a number of challenges when someone anywhere in the world can upload anything instantaneously in high quality.

“This is something that is a very big responsibility for us and one that we take seriously,” he continued.

Walker said Facebook has also learnt the hard way, in many cases, “that connecting people with great connectivity and products isn’t necessarily doing good”.

Recently, Facebook faced an onslaught of criticism and accusations that a UK firm working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign harvested and illegally misused data of 50 million members. The social media giant is still reeling from the scandal over its handling of personal data.

“We learnt the hard way that we can do better with news integrity, to fight misinformation. We can do better with people that were manipulating our ads and even more recently we could have done better with people’s data,” said Walker.

He added that no one has been able to connect two billion together.

“It’s new for everyone but it’s not an excuse for us. We need to improve our policies and what we do as technology becomes more powerful,” he said.

Walker pointed out that Facebook has changed its mission from connecting people to helping people build a community and bringing the world closer together.

“Unless you put a positive intent into your mission and technology, you may create too much opportunity for people to use technology for negative means. We have to work together — civil society, media organisations and ourselves to battle against these forces,” he said.