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Facebook Organizes Digital Training Program For Houston’s Small Businesses, Apologizes For Data Scandal

The social media company is trying to raise its profile among small businesses, while battling with the fallout of a data scandal

Katherine Shappley, VP North America SMB, via Facebook

For two days, different Houston nonprofits are offering digital skills training as part of a program called Facebook Community Boost.

Ifeoma Ozoma, programs manager for digital skills at Facebook, said businesses benefit from having a social media presence.

"We know Facebook best," she said at an event kicking off the program in Houston. "And so that's something we can help organizations with and something we've also been asked about."

Anna Cho is one of the small business owners participating in the training. She owns Moody Ice, a shave ice shop in the Heights.

Cho said social media platforms helped her get her business started.

"I know how to use Facebook to advertise for the business," she said. "But I just want to see what's more. I'm sure there's always more you can learn, and also what other people are doing."

Houston is the second of 30 cities Facebook is touring.

Sandberg apologizes for data scandal

During the kickoff event, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg apologized for the company's role in allowing Cambridge Analytica to mine user data without permission.

It's one of the first times she has spoken publicly about the scandal.

"Trust is at the core of what we do, it is hard-earned and easily lost. And we know we have a long road ahead of us to rebuild that trust,” Sandberg said. “And you have my personal commitment, from me and from Mark, and from everyone that works at Facebook, that we are taking this incredibly seriously and we are committed to earning back your trust."

Sandberg is widely considered to be the architect of Facebook's data-driven advertising and helped make the company profitable after being hired away from Google.

To date, she has only granted one media interview on the data scandal.


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