- Bill Gates said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did a good job in front of Congress last week, but must now play a leading role in helping the world figure out data privacy.
- He said Facebook will be “glad” to take a business hit to help people “feel good” about their data.
- Regulation is coming, Gates said, but should be done in a “thoughtful” way.
Bill Gates has offered some reassuring words for embattled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – but warned that the company must play a leading role in helping the world figure out data privacy.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme, the Microsoft co-founder said Zuckerberg is responding “as best he can” to the scandal, which saw 87 million US Facebook accounts scraped for data in 2014.
He described the CEO’s congressional hearings last week as “a pretty strong mea culpa in terms of things they could have done better,” adding that he did “quite a good job” under questioning from US lawmakers.
But now, Gates said Facebook must show it is taking a leading role in helping solve the issue of data protection online. “They are in the hot seat of some very state-of-the-art issues,” he said. “As a leader, Facebook has got to help the world figure this out.”
Asked what advice he would give Zuckerberg, Gates said: “This is his total focus now. He is somebody who takes a long-term view. He’ll be glad to reduce the business’ prospects, to make sure that the privacy promises make consumers feel good.”
Gates: Regulation is coming
Gates was also philosophical about the prospect of greater government intervention in the tech sector.
“We will end up with more regulation,” he told the BBC, highlighting areas where governments are already taking action, including on hate speech.
Regulation should be done in a “thoughtful way,” he added, with “alignment between countries.”
The European Union is introducing General Data Protection Regulation privacy rules next month and Facebook is already rolling out changes globally in order to comply with the rules.
For example, Facebook is about to ask whether users really want to share highly sensitive details about their life, such as religion, political leanings, or sexual orientation. Under the regulations, it is illegal to collect this kind of sensitive information unless people give explicit permission.
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