Mark Zuckerberg: ‘I’m really sorry that this happened’

Mark Zuckerberg has regrets.

“I’m really sorry that this happened,” the Facebook CEO told CNN’s Laurie Segall in an exclusive TV interview on Wednesday.

News broke this weekend that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, accessed information from 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge, and might have kept that data even after Facebook told the company to delete it.

The revelation put Facebook and Zuckerberg under the microscope for their handling of user data and privacy.

Zuckerberg addressed the scandal publicly through a Facebook post on Wednesday. He wrote that the company made “mistakes” and outlined how it has changed its policies to make sure that user data is protected.

“I wish we’d taken those steps earlier,” Zuckerberg told Segall. “That … is probably the biggest mistake that we made here.”

In 2014, Facebook changed its platform to limit the amount of data that third-party developers could access.

Aleksandr Kogan, the data scientist who passed along data to SCL Group and its affiliate Cambridge Analytica, built a Facebook app that drew data from users and their friends in 2013. He was allowed access to a broad range of data at the time.

Though Kogan’s data was properly obtained, he breached Facebook’s policy when he shared that information with a third party, Facebook has said. When Facebook learned about the information being shared, it asked Cambridge Analytica to destroy the data. Cambridge said it had.

But a former contractor, Christopher Wylie, disputes that Cambridge Analytica destroyed the user data.

Zuckerberg told Segall that he regrets taking Cambridge Analytica at its word. “This was clearly a mistake,” he said.

Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to alert everyone whose data was accessed by Cambridge Analytica. But he added that he wishes the company hadn’t waited so long to tell people what happened.

“That’s definitely something that, looking back on this, I regret that we didn’t do at the time,” he told CNN. “I think we got that wrong.”

And he said he’s made other mistakes along the way.

“I started this when I was so young and inexperienced,” the 33-year-old Zuckerberg said. “I made technical errors and business errors. I hired the wrong people. I trusted the wrong people,” he said.

“I’ve probably launched more products that have failed than most people will in their lifetime.”

But ultimately, he said, he’s learned from his missteps.

“That’s the commitment that I try to have inside our company and for our community.”

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Trump prepared to sit out Mississippi special election (for now)

Top aides to President Donald Trump told Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant in a phone call this week that the president would be sitting out the state’s special election, an administration official told CNN Wednesday.

The official initially said the conversation was between Trump and Bryant, but later clarified that it was actually top Trump aides who conveyed the message to the Mississippi Republican.

That means Trump does not plan to endorse or campaign for either Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith or Chris McDaniel in what is shaping up to be a hotly contested race. The official said that could change and that the White House would continue to monitor the contest.

Bryant on Wednesday tapped Hyde-Smith, the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, to replace Sen. Thad Cochran, who is retiring. McDaniel is a Mississippi State senator and conservative activist who is challenging Hyde-Smith for the reliably Republican seat.

There won’t be a party primary for the special election in Mississippi, and the election will be non-partisan, with no party identification for the candidates on the ballot. If no candidate gets 50 percent, a runoff will be held.

The White House message to Bryant was that the president was not prepared to endorse anyone in the primary at this time, but noted that the decision was subject to change.

Aides spoke to Trump about the Mississippi race on Tuesday, the official said, and the president “expressed his desire to not weigh into the race at this time.”

The official added that Trump doesn’t have an issue with Hyde-Smith, but aides told the governor that the president didn’t want to get involved in what will likely be a race between the two Republicans.

Trump’s decision to wade into the special election in Alabama last year looms over this decision. Trump endorsed Luther Strange in 2017, only to have the establishment-backed lawmaker lose in the primary to Republican Roy Moore. Then Trump endorsed Moore, who eventually lost to Democrat Doug Jones after women came forward to allege that Moore sexually abused them as teenagers.

Republicans, including Trump, urged Bryant to appoint himself to the seat vacated by Cochran’s retirement, but the governor said no and opted to nominated Hyde-Smith, who was a Democrat as recently as 2010 when she served in the state Senate.

McDaniel, signaling how he will attack Hyde-Smith in the primary, went after her history as a Democrat on Wednesday.

“Before Commissioner Hyde-Smith was elected to lead the Department of Agriculture, her only legislative experience was that of a Democrat. She ran as a Democrat. She served as a Democrat. She voted like a Democrat,” McDaniel said. “Although her reputation in Jackson was that of a moderate Democrat, the last thing the state of Mississippi needs in Washington is another moderate Democrat.”

Hyde-Smith, preparing for a fight against McDaniel, highlighted her conservatism on Wednesday.

“I’ve been conservative all of my life and that’s demonstrated by my conservative voting record as a three-term state senator and my conservative accomplishments as Agriculture Commissioner,” she said.

Her campaign later sent out a list of two dozen endorsements Hyde-Smith has received from an array of Republican lawmakers, including one from Bryant referring to her as a “rock-solid conservative.”

White House officials declined to officially comment about Trump’s view of the Mississippi race.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect that a source clarified to CNN that it was top aides to Trump who spoke to Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, not Trump himself, as the source originally indicated.

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China: We will hit back if US announces new tariffs

Beijing has renewed a warning that it will retaliate if President Donald Trump goes through with plans to slap new tariffs on Chinese goods worth billions of dollars.

“China will certainly take all necessary measures to resolutely defend its legitimate rights and interests,” if the United States imposes new restrictions, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Thursday.

Trump is widely expected to announce new tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese exports to the United States later in the day. That’s a little more than 10% of all Chinese goods sent to the United States in 2017.

Trump has repeatedly accused Beijing of unfair trade practices like currency manipulation — which helps China make its exports more affordable — and of stealing US intellectual property. The president has frequently taken aim at China’s huge goods trade surplus with the United States, which reached $375 billion last year.

The tariffs would be the first time the Trump administration has directly targeted China with big trade sanctions. Previous measures against steel, aluminum and solar panels have applied to imports from other countries too.

China has repeatedly said that it doesn’t want a trade war but warned that it would take “firm and necessary” countermeasures if necessary.

“It’s unrealistic and unreasonable to demand complete equality in trade,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Thursday. “We hope that both sides can sit down and talk calmly.”

Beijing hasn’t offered any specifics on how it could respond, but it does have a number of options.

For example, it is one of the biggest buyers of US crops, including soybeans or sorghum. China could put a tariff on those, or decide to buy more soy from places like Brazil and Argentina.

Boeing might also be vulnerable in the longer term. It’s the single largest US exporter, and China is a critical market for the company. Chinese airlines could place more orders for Airbus planes in future.

China is also the biggest creditor of the United States: It owns more US government bonds than any other country. It recently cut some of its US debt holdings, though investors don’t expect China to immediately dump its US debt.

China’s Global Times, a state tabloid that often voices nationalist views, said in an editorial this week that any suggestion China would suffer more than the United States in a trade war was “arrogant and naïve.”

It pointed to soybeans as one area where it could put the squeeze on US exporters.

“If China halves the proportion of the US soybean imports, it will not have any major impact on China, but the US bean farmers will complain. They were mostly Trump supporters. Let them confront Trump,” the newspaper said.

— CNN’s Daniel Shane contributed to this article.

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Amid security fears, Stoneman Douglas students will carry clear backpacks

When students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School return from spring break, they will be required to carry clear backpacks, Broward County school officials said.

The move is one of a number of changes announced Wednesday by Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runice after the Parkland school experienced a number security issues in recent days — more than month after a mass shooting left 17 people dead.

A number of incidents this week at Stoneman Douglas have students and faculty on edge:

  • Two students were arrested this week, accused of bringing knives to the school.
  • Another student was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation after posting threatening messages on Snapchat.
  • Zachary Cruz, the brother of gunman Nikolas Cruz, was arrested of trespassing on the school grounds Monday after being repeatedly warned to stay off the campus.
  • A sheriff’s deputy was suspended after he was accused of sleeping in his patrol car while on duty at the school on Monday.

More than 700 students stayed home from school on Wednesday after the incidents. Both Runice and Gov. Rick Scott have said they are working to improve security at the school. 

Scott assigned eight Florida Highway Patrol troopers to provide additional security for the school.

“Parents, students and teachers have recently endured one of the worst tragedies in Florida history,” Scott said. “They must be assured that every necessary step is being taken to increase safety and ensure no unauthorized people are allowed on campus.”

In additional to the backpacks, Runice said students and faculty  will be issued identification badges that must be worn at all time while on campus. Runice said the school district is also considering consolidating entry points to the school and using metal detecting wands. 

“While we cannot change the heartbreaking and senseless act of violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas by working together, we can change the future,” Runcie said.

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Zuckerberg says he is ‘happy to’ testify before Congress

Mark Zuckerberg is leaving the door open to testifying before Congress in the wake of a data debacle that has upended Facebook this week.

“The short answer is I’m happy to if it’s the right thing to do,” the Facebook CEO told CNN’s Laurie Segall in an exclusive TV interview airing on “Anderson Cooper 360.”

“What we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge,” Zuckerberg said. “If that’s me, then I am happy to go.”

Although Facebook employs a small army of lawyers and lobbyists in Washington, Zuckerberg himself has never testified before a congressional committee, according to a C-SPAN database.

Lawmakers want to change that. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have called for Zuckerberg to testify before their legislative bodies in the five days since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted.

The data firm, which has ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, reportedly accessed information from about 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Facebook says the data was initially collected by a professor for academic purposes in line with its rules. The information was later transferred to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook’s policies, Facebook has said.

Zuckerberg broke his silence on the issue earlier Wednesday with a post on his personal Facebook page laying out a series of steps the company would take to better protect user data. But that wasn’t enough to appease lawmakers.

“The steps Facebook has laid out to protect its users are a start but Zuckerberg still needs to come testify,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, wrote on Twitter Wednesday. She also urged the company to support new regulation around online advertising disclosures.

In the interview with CNN, Zuckerberg suggested the question was not whether Facebook should be regulated so much as how best to do it.

“I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” Zuckerberg said. “There are things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see.”

Despite his high-profile position running one of the world’s largest companies, Zuckerberg typically prefers to speak through Facebook posts and events rather than interviews.

After his post on Wednesday, Zuckerberg was criticized by some on social media for stopping short of an outright apology. He rectified that in the CNN interview.

“This was a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened,” Zuckerberg said. “We have a basic responsibility to protect peoples’ data.”

Zuckerberg is now pledging to further restrict developers’ access to user data, including automatically removing access for any app the user hasn’t opened in at least three months. Facebook will also investigate all apps with access to large amounts of user data.

“It’s hard to know what we’ll find, but we are going to review thousands of apps,” he told CNN. “This is going to be an intensive process.”

Zuckerberg expressed regret for not doing more to take action against Cambridge Analytica when the issue came to the company’s attention in 2015. At the time, Facebook demanded and received a formal certification from the firm that it had deleted all user data acquired through improper means.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m used to when people legally certify that they are going to do something, that they do it. But I think this was clearly a mistake in retrospect,” Zuckerberg said. “We need to make sure we don’t make that mistake ever again.”

This week has brought another black eye for the company after what was already a bruising year full of stories about fake news, foreign election meddling, filter bubbles and social media addiction.

In the CNN interview, Zuckerberg said if anyone had told him when he founded Facebook in 2004 that he’d one day be battling state actors, “I wouldn’t have really believed that that would be something I’d have to work on 14 years later.”

When asked if bad actors are currently trying to use Facebook to meddle in the U.S. midterm elections, Zuckerberg said, “I’m sure someone’s trying.” But he expressed confidence in his company’s ability to tackle it.

“This isn’t rocket science. There’s a lot of hard work we have to do to make it harder for nation states like Russia to do election interference,” he said. “But we can get in front of this.”

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Singer Jacquees arrested in Miami Beach after ignoring officer, police say

R&B singer Jacquees was arrested Wednesday after he repeatedly failed to obey instructions from a police officer, authorities said.

According to the arrest report, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter, whose full name is Rodriquez Jacquees Broadnax, was driving a black Lamborghini along Ocean Drive just after 4:30 p.m. when a police officer noticed he was not wearing a seat belt. The officer attempted to pull Jacquees over, but he kept driving, the report said.

The officer caught up with Jacquees, and he was again asked to pull over and produce his driver’s license. When he refused, the officer asked Jacquees to leave his vehicle, the report said.

The officer asked Jacquees to walk over to the sidewalk so they could talk, but Jacquees refused and told the officer,” Do not touch me,” the report said. Meanwhile, a large crowd gathered around Jacquees and the officer, the report said.

Concerned for his safety, the officer called for additional officers and then arrested Jacquees, the report said.

“If the defendant would have complied since he was being pulled over, this incident could have been avoided,” the report said.

Jacquees, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, is known for his 2016 single “B.E.D.”  He has worked with other pop stars, such as T.I. and Chris Brown.

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