Repeatedly warned graduates that even technology created with the best intentions can be twisted to do harm.
UNITED STATES.- Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg didn’t shy away from her company’s ongoing privacy scandal in a Friday commencement speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Instead, she turned it into a lesson about accountability.
Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, repeatedly warned graduates that even technology created with the best intentions can be twisted to do harm, a lesson that she said hits close to home,“given some of the issues Facebook has had.”
“At Facebook, we didn’t see all the risks coming, and we didn’t do enough to stop them,”Sandberg said. “It’s hard when you know you let people down.”
Echoing previous comments from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sandberg went on to emphatize the importance of taking full responsibility for mistakes.
“When you own your mistakes, you can work hard to correct them, and even harder to prevent the next ones,” she said at the campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.“That’s my job now. It won’t be easy, and it’s not going to be fast, but we will see it through.”
Facebook has faced backlash in the wake of a privacy scandal involving British data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica. In April,
Zuckerberg appeared before Congress to apologize for the site’s role in foreign interference in the 2016 election.
The furor continued with recent revelations that Facebook shared user data with device makers including China’s Huawei, and that an unrelated software bug made some private posts public for up to 14 million users over several days in May.
Sandberg said she’s still proud of the company, noting its power to help organize movements like the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter. But she warned graduates that technology has a flipside, and isn’t always used for the sake of good.
“It also empowers those who would seek to do harm,” she said. “When everyone has a voice, some raise their voices in hatred. When everyone can share, some share lies. And when everyone can organize, some organize against the things we value the most.”