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Mark Zuckerberg will be on CNN tonight. Will he apologize?

Commentary: The embattled Facebook CEO will be on grilled tonight on CNN. But will he express contrition for the Cambridge Analytica mess?

James Martin/CNET

We'll finally hear first-hand from Mark Zuckerberg later tonight, when CNN's Laurie Segall interviews him on Anderson Cooper's show. It will be the first chance for the embattled Facebook CEO and co-founder to speak on camera since the Cambridge Analytica scandal engulfed the social media giant last weekend.

But perhaps the biggest question is: Will he actually apologize?

Now playing: Watch this: Zuckerberg makes Cambridge Analytica statement

That sentiment was glaringly absent from the statement he posted on Facebook earlier today. That 936-word treatise -- his first comment on the matter since the scandal broke Friday night -- is half timeline, half fix-it promise. You can read it here in its entirety:

I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation -- including the steps we've already taken and our next...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It details what went wrong (they used to let random developers have access to a staggering amount of data on your friends of friends of friends!), how Facebook has already addressed some of these issues ("the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago"), how the company is further limiting data exposure (3-month time limit for developers to access your data!), expanding its investigation ("forensic audit"!) and giving more power to users to address privacy concerns (they're moving an existing tool to a more prominent place at the top of your news feed!).

So, yeah: All in all, a pretty tepid response from a guy who became a billionaire by selling your data to any advertiser or client with an open wallet. 

You can judge his action plan on its merits or the lack thereof. But the more shocking thing about the statement is how clinical it is. Yes, he admits that Facebook "made mistakes" -- and does so in active voice! -- but the whole post lacks emotion and contrition. "The whole response is devoid of remorseful language. [...] Feels like it could have been written by an AI," tweeted my colleague Katie Collins

I couldn't agree more. This was Zuckbot in his purest form. You could almost see Jesse Eisenberg -- who played Zuckerberg in 2010's "The Social Network -- delivering the speech, giving the minimum amount of attention all the while. 

I'm sure Zuckerberg has contracted an elite team of crisis communicators that are far more experienced than I am, but I have one bit of advice for his CNN interview: Apologize. Say you're sorry.

Will he do it? We'll find out tonight on CNN at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Update, 6:55 p.m. PT: In the CNN interview, Mark Zuckerberg said this: "This was a major breach of trust, and I'm really sorry that this happened. We have a basic responsibility to protect peoples' data." It's being widely seen as an apology, but I'd argue it's about as close to the minimum as possible. Still, I think he came off as at least more emotionally engaged on-screen than he did in that technocratic text post earlier today. He's also given interviews to Wired and The New York Times.

Zuckerberg vows changes to Facebook after Cambridge Analytica scandal: Facebook's CEO finally responds.

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and data mining: What you need to know