Facebook advertisers paused spending after data breach: Sheryl Sandberg

Some Facebook advertisers have halted spending on the social media platform amid ongoing concerns about its user privacy practices, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Bloomberg in an interview published Thursday.

“We’ve seen a few advertisers pause with us, and they’re asking the same questions that other people are asking,” Sandberg said. “They want to make sure they can use data and use it safely.”

Advertisers are raising concerns after multiple news outlets reported that British firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the personal data of millions of Americans without consent. Facebook said earlier this week that as many as 87 million Americans may have been affected by the breach, up from a previous estimate of roughly 50 million.

It’s unclear how many Facebook advertisers have paused spending or how much money in potential advertising revenue is at stake. Mozilla and Pep Boys are among the companies that said they would pull advertising after the Cambridge Analytica incident. Facebook earned nearly $40 billion in advertising revenue during its 2017 fiscal year.

Facebook said it is reviewing its data practices and implementing several changes designed to protect users from unwanted intrusions. The platform will investigate apps that act suspiciously and ban any apps or developers that refuse to undergo an audit. The company also said it plans to alert users whose information was compromised in the Cambridge Analytica leak.

Sandberg added that she is having “reassuring conversations with advertisers, just as we are with people.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify about the platform’s data practices in front of a House committee next week.