April 9, 2018 / 2:56 PM / 17 days ago

Alibaba's Jack Ma urges Facebook to fix privacy issues

BOAO, China (Reuters) - Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, on Monday urged Facebook Inc to resolve its data privacy problems, a day before the social media giant’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was due to appear at U.S. congressional hearings.

FILE PHOTO - Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Holding, gestures as he speaks the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Ma, speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia in China’s southern Hainan province, was asked about privacy issues that have dogged Facebook in recent weeks after it said the personal information of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

“The senior management should take responsibility, say, hey, from now we start to work on it,” Ma said after initially refraining from weighing in on the issue.

“I will not make a comment about Facebook, but I will say, Facebook, 15 years ago, they never expected this thing to grow like that,” he said.

“Right, it’s like a social network, it’s got two billion people using it! So all of the problems they did not realize came up! It is the time we fix it,” he said.

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File photo

“But I think the problem would be solved, we should not kill the company because of these problems,” Ma said, speaking in English.

Zuckerberg will appear before the U.S. Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Tuesday to address questions about how his company handles its users’ data.

On Friday, Facebook backed proposed legislation requiring social media sites to disclose the identities of buyers of online political campaign ads and introduced a new verification process for people buying “issue” ads.

“The most important solution is, you respect the data, you respect the security, you respect the privacy,” Ma said.

Reporting by Joseph Campbell and Kevin Yao; Writing by Tony Munroe; editing by David Evans

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