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Facebook: Threat to sue journalists was 'not our wisest move'

With a Cambridge Analytica exposé nearing publication, Facebook should "have probably not threatened to sue the Guardian," Facebook exec Campbell Brown says.

A phone shows a pink Cambridge Analytica logo in front of a large blue Facebook logo
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Facebook's threat to sue Guardian journalists to keep a privacy exposé about Cambridge Analytica buried was "not our wisest move," the social network's point person to the news industry says.

"If it were me I would have probably not threatened to sue The Guardian," Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said Thursday at the FT Future of News conference.

She's the latest Facebook executive to join an apology tour for what CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday called a "breach of trust" with Facebook users. His post and interviews Wednesday were his first public comments about the Cambridge Analytica privacy controversy. Facebook has faced a spiraling scandal since The Guardian and The New York Times published accounts of how Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy hired by the Trump presidential campaign, improperly mined personal details from millions of Facebook users without people's permission.  

Guardian reporter Carole Cadwalladr said Saturday that the social network threatened to sue to prevent The Guardian from publishing its story, which reported how the group exploited personal information of friends -- and even friends of friends -- of people who took an online personality test. 

Brown's comments echoed those of Zuckerberg the day before that Facebook made a was "mistake" in failing to publicly address the Cambridge Analytica problem in 2015. 

Brown, a former CNN journalist that Facebook hired in January 2017 to be a dedicated liaison with news publishers, also said Facebook "has been too focused on the positive and not nearly vigilant enough about the negative." 

"We've been caught flat-footed," she said. 

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