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Facebook news head says threatening to sue The Guardian over data leak was 'not our wisest move'

  • The Guardian says Facebook threatened to sue a week prior to the news outlet revealing a "whistleblower" from Cambridge Analytica.
  • Campbell Brown, Facebook's head of news, said that a threat to sue The Guardian would be a mistake.
  • Mark Zuckerberg said that the company initially learned of Cambridge Analytica's data misuse from The Guardian and other independent news outlets.

Facebook's head of news partnerships Campbell Brown said if the company threatened to sue The Guardian last week, it was a mistake.

Brown spoke at the Financial Times' Future of News Conference in New York City on Thursday morning regarding the mistakes that Facebook has made and where the company is going from here.

According to Guardian reporter Carole Cadwalladr, Facebook threatened to sue the day before the newspaper published a story about a "whistleblower" from Cambridge Analytica.


When a fellow panelist brought up Facebook's threat of a lawsuit, Brown interrupted to apologize.

"It was a mistake to not have addressed [the data leak] then, and if it were me I would not have threatened to sue The Guardian. Probably not our wisest move," she said.

Facebook had initially learned in 2015 via reporting from The Guardian and other independent news outlets that Cambridge Analytica had gained access to user data without users' consent, according to Mark Zuckerberg's statement on Wednesday. The company ordered Cambridge Analytica to delete the data but learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and U.K.-based Channel 4 last week that Cambridge Analytica had not disposed of the user data as previously promised.

Brown promises that Facebook is doing everything it can to prevent further misuse of user data.

"There is an awakening that's taking place inside the company where the mentality is very much all hands on deck in terms of trying to address this," she said.