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Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Tuesday's news (via Bloomberg) that Facebook had contractors listen to users' private recorded messages to provide transcription quality control was hardly surprising.

The big picture: Google and Apple had been doing the same thing until a couple of weeks ago, when they stopped after reports surfaced in public. In fact, Facebook says it stopped the practice when its rivals did, as well. What's surprising is how little Facebook's playbook around privacy violations has changed, even after 18 months of controversy and a recent $5 billion settlement over the issue with the Federal Trade Commission.

After everything the company has been through, Facebook nonetheless:

  • Failed to disclose to users that it had people listening to their private messages, however anonymously.
  • Understood there was a problem with the practice when it decided to halt it, yet failed to report that action to its users.
  • Did not go public with any information about the issue until a news story surfaced that described the contractors as "rattled" by the work.

Flashback: The first lesson in Crisis Management 101 is get everything out on the table at once, as fast as you can. Instead, since the Cambridge Analytica data scandal first rocked Facebook in March 2018, the company has hopped from one privacy revelation to the next, having to rewind the apology tape to the start each time:

  • June 2018: Up to 14 million users learned that many posts they intended to be accessible only to small groups of friends were public instead. Facebook blamed a software bug.
  • Sept. 2018: A data breach exposes the personal information of 50 million Facebook users.
  • Dec. 2018: Facebook announces that a bug allowed outside apps to access photos they weren't supposed to, including some that users had uploaded but hadn't posted. Up to 6.8 million users were affected.
  • Feb. 2019: Facebook changes the location settings for its Android app to make them more transparent. The company had faced a previous controversy in March 2018 for scraping and saving call data from Android users' phones, but the subsequent changes it made didn't fully resolve the problem.
  • April 2019: A report revealed that Facebook user data was left unprotected by third-party developers on Amazon cloud servers, exposing 540 million records.

The bottom line: As a result, despite CEO Mark Zuckerberg's protestations that Facebook has turned over a new leaf when it comes to protecting users' information, the impression the company has given the world is that Facebook will never change.

Our thought bubble: When a company in this sort of crisis is serious about putting controversy behind it, it can come clean, conduct a thorough top-to-bottom audit, report the results, and — maybe — move on. But it might be too late for Facebook to accomplish that.

Go deeper: What Facebook knows about you

Go deeper

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

2 hours ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.