Sandberg admits to Facebook stumbles, says 'we need to do better' after rough year

Key Points
  • Speaking at the DLD conference in Munich on Sunday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg outlines five things the social media company is focused on in 2019.
  • She says Facebook "understands the deep responsibilities we have. ... We need to stop abuse more quickly and we need to do better to protect people's data."
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg speaks at the DLD conference in Munich on January 20, 2019.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged on Sunday that the embattled social media giant "understands the deep responsibilities we have," as it strives to earn back users' trust following months of controversies over user privacy protection and data sharing.

"At Facebook, these last few years have been difficult," she said, speaking at the DLD conference in Munich. "We need to stop abuse more quickly and we need to do better to protect people's data. We have acknowledged our mistakes."

The public backlash really erupted last year when Facebook was accused of misusing its users' personal information, amid after reports found political consultant agency Cambridge Analytica tapped millions of Facebook users without their explicit consent.

Following the reports in March, the FTC launched an investigation into the company's data practices. Now, the FTC is reportedly considering a imposing a "record-setting fine" against the social media company.

On Sunday, Sandberg outlined five things Facebook is doing as it "reflects and learns." Those steps include: Investing in safety and security; protecting against election interference; cracking down on fake accounts and fake information; making sure people feel like they control their own information; and increasing transparency at Facebook, she said.

Regarding election interference, Sandberg said Facebook continues to remove pages on its platform that have "inauthentic behavior" and that the company will be using tactics like this in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. She said Facebook is blocking more than 1 million "fake accounts" every day. And she said Facebook has "dramatically cut down on the information apps can access" from users.

"Speaking for Mark [Zuckerberg], for myself and for everyone at Facebook, we are more determined than ever to keep people safe. And we are taking strong actions to do it," she said, referring to the company's founder and CEO.

Just last month, Facebook released the findings of a civil rights audit led by Laura Murphy, a former director of the ACLU Legislative Office. In those findings, Murphy highlighted particular areas of concern on the social media platform, including voter suppression, advertising targeting and diversity among Facebook's own employees.

CNBC also reported earlier this month, after speaking with more than a dozen former Facebook employees, how the social media company's leadership and its performance review system has created a culture where any dissent is discouraged.

"We have to [take action] because so many people use technology for good," Sandberg said on Sunday, adding that Facebook is one of the largest job creation platforms in the world. She said Facebook is "far from done."

Facebook shares have fallen about 16 percent over the past 12 months.

Feds reportedly have discussed imposing record fine against Facebook
Feds reportedly have discussed imposing record fine against Facebook