As questions about Facebook's commitment to individual privacy continue to swirl in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the #DeleteFacebook movement continues to become a reality, it's pretty safe to say that thousands — if not millions — are currently judging their stance on the platform's viability going forward. But amid an overabundance of thinkpieces and exclusive interviews about the matter, on March 21 the BBC quietly rereleased a 2009 interview with Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, and it may help provide a little clarity on how horribly wrong the whole thing has gone. There's one exchange in particular (starting at around the one minute and 14 second mark) that takes place between Zuckerberg and journalist Laura Trevelyan, though, that will leave your jaw on the floor:
TREVELYAN: You say there's a contradiction between people wanting to share information online, and wanting to control it. Why?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, I mean, I think everyone wants to be able to see all the information that's out there, and at the same time everyone wants to make sure that they're only sharing their information with the people they want to see it. So it's important that we design a system where people can do both.
TREVELYAN: So just to be clear, you're not going to sell — or share — any of the information on Facebook?
ZUCKERBERG: What the terms say is just — we're not going to share people's information except for with the people that they've asked for it to be shared. Everyone gets privacy settings, which has always been one of the big differentiators for Facebook, and what makes it a really different service for people. You can say, "I want this photo album to go to these people" or "I want this note to go to these people," and the privacy controls on Facebook are really unparalleled by anything else.
TREVELYAN: But how are you going to make money if you won't sell or share people's information?
ZUCKERBERG: The model is advertising. People's information is their own, but there are a lot of different companies and entities that want to buy advertising to take the information that they have — whatever their message is — and reach more people with it.
While Zuckerberg is responding to a nearly decade-old issue in the interview, it's hard not to see the connection between his reaction and the ongoing accusations around Facebook's involvement in the 2016 election. To that end, it raises very serious questions of when Facebook became aware of the potential for abuse within their data-based advertising system, and why they chose to apologise after the fact instead of seeking a solution in the last 10 years.
Watch the 2009 interview with the BBC in full for yourself.