One of Facebook's top executives had an awkward public face-off with Amazon's CTO over making money from user data
Facebook's most senior lobbyist Nick Clegg attended the DLD conference in Munich on Monday, and took questions from the audience. Amazon CTO Werner Vogels was in the audience and stood up to ask Clegg an awkward question about the way Facebook monetizes its users by collecting huge amounts of their data. Clegg said Facebook doesn't sell user data, and said the platform has made strides in user transparency surrounding data sharing. It was a rare instance of execs from two major tech companies spatting in public, and shows that Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
One of Facebook's top executives had a surprise face-off against Amazon's CTO while giving a talk at the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference in Munich on Monday. Facebook head of communications Nick Clegg did an interview at DLD and took questions from the audience at the end. One of the questions came from Amazon's chief technology officer, Werner Vogels. He stood up and said: "If you don't pay for the product you are the product... I'd like to believe 95% of your customers do not understand that they are the product. What would you want to do for them to make them realize that they are selling their data, or that they actually have precious goods in their hands that are being sold to others?" Clegg denied that Facebook sells user data outright, and argued that Facebook's advertising model stops the platform from being available only to rich people. "I strongly agree with the implicit suggestion in your question that we can and must do more to make that relationship [between data sharing and targeted advertising] more explicit. I don't agree with the characterization of the way you say it because we don't actually sell people's data, but that's a separate debate," he said. Clegg continued that he believes Facebook has got better at letting users know in clear terms how their data is being shared and used. "We're starting to roll out a new tool which you can find on Facebook called 'Off Facebook Activity,' so that you can see all the signals that Facebook receives through cookies and pixels when you go and visit... A shoe shop, a book shop or whatever," he said. "Crucially you can say, 'I don't want those signals to be sent to Facebook or shared with Facebook again'," he added. Amazon's business model is not reliant on digital advertising, but ads are still an area which generates billions of dollars in revenue for the e-commerce giant, and a Business Insider Intelligence report found Amazon's ad business is likely to grow and eat into Facebook and Google's market share. Likewise, Amazon relies on information about people's purchases and site browsing habits to inform what it displays on its site. Amazon is also the owner of security firm Ring, which has been accused of building up a massive, unofficial surveillance network with its popular connected doorbells. You can watch Vogels' question and Clegg's response here:
Clegg also took a question from former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser, who criticized the company's decision to let political ads run with no fact-checking. "Why is Facebook calling the moderation of political content... Why is Facebook claiming that that is censorship?" she asked. "I don't think we do call it censorship," Clegg replied. "Of course you need to strike the right balance, that's why we have our own standards in addition to the law... That's one of the most tricky cultural, legal, and ethical balances in any modern society," he said. "I'm sure you guys can do better at that," Kaiser said, to which Clegg responded with a laugh: "I'm sure we can do better."SEE ALSO: A group of small tech firms told Congress that Google, Apple and Amazon used bullying tactics to try to crush them. Here are some of the most astounding stories they shared. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 8 weird robots NASA wants to send to space
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Amazon is known for putting candidates through a rigorous process that involves hours of interviews and...Amazon is known for putting candidates through a rigorous process that involves hours of interviews and includes a "bar-raiser," someone designated to assess whether a candidate will fit into the culture. Business Insider spoke to insiders about how to master Amazon's 14 leadership practices and prepare to answer behavioral-based questions backed with data and examples. Advertising is a big part of Amazon's hiring effort, with more than 1,000 advertising jobs open across seven teams. Click here for more BI Prime stories. Amazon is known as one of the most difficult companies to interview with, putting candidates through tough questioning and quizzing them on 14 core leadership principles that prioritize behavioral traits over job qualifications. But as its expected $17 billion advertising business grows, Amazon has become one of a few companies that is rivaling Facebook and Google as destination for job-seekers, said two insiders familiar with Amazon's hiring practices. Advertising in particular is a big focus, where Amazon has more than 1,000 openings across seven teams. While hiring activity can widely vary by time of the year, that figure is well above the 130 roles that were open in June. "They are actually working on genuinely cool problems in the space," said one source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person is interviewing at the company. "There is a bit of prestige of having Amazon on the resume." Business Insider spoke to current and former employees, one job applicant, and a recruiting firm for tips on getting a job at Amazon and what to expect. How to get in the door A referral will give candidates a leg up, and employees get a bonus for making a successful referral, but Amazon doesn't lean on referrals as much as other tech companies, according to Glassdoor. 12% of reviewers on Glassdoor said that they got an interview at Amazon this way. To compare, 15% of Netflix employees come from referrals, and 25% of Facebook employees come from referrals, according to Glassdoor. An Amazon spokesperson said that while referrals can give candidates a boost, the company's full interview process plays a bigger role. How to prepare for the interview Amazon is known for tough interview questions. Instead of asking about people's background or resume, candidates are asked behavioral-based questions. The goal is to find people who align with the company's culture, and it's normal to only be asked a few questions during an hour-long interview, sources said. Connor Folley, CEO of Amazon-focused adtech firm Downstream and a former Amazon employee, said that he prepared for interviews by scouring Glassdoor and compiled all of the questions into a word document. "You'll find that people with no marketing experience are hired into a marketing manager role," he said. "More important is your proclivity towards these leadership principles than having experience in the role itself." Here are some examples of typical interview questions, according to Amazon's Glassdoor page: Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a manager or team member. Describe a time when you went above and beyond the scope of your job. Tell me about a time that you handled a crisis. What is an example of a time you had to make a high-impact business decision with little data or time. Amazon's 14 leadership principles are at the core of the interview process. The principles include "customer obsession" and "learn and be curious." Applicants are encouraged to memorize the principles and provide examples of how they embody the values. Amazon also uses the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result, in interviews. Candidates are first asked to describe a situation where they were faced with one of the leadership principles. They are asked to detail the problem and how they solved it. Data-based answers can make a candidate stand out, sources said. The Amazon employee estimated that more than half of successfully answering interview questions comes from being able to quantify an experience and explain it well. For example, Amazon may ask an advertising job candidate about how they helped a brand with its ad-targeting strategy. A good answer would include specific controls and measures the candidate used to tweak the strategy, the employee said. Avi Bogart, managing director of recruitment at Three Pillars Recruiting, a firm that places talent at adtech and media companies, said this focus on specificity is meant to evaluate a candidate's credibility. "When someone isn't being specific, chances are that something is missing — that's such an important thing for how Amazon candidates respond," he said. How the interview process works The interview process lasts about a month, which sources described as quick for a hiring process. Hiring managers are expected to get back to candidates about next steps two days after a phone interview. Those who get an in-person interview can expect to hear back within five days, say people who are familiar with the system. "Amazon has a rule to treat their candidates like customers," said the advertising employee. "They're not in to waste candidates' time. They want to be quick, transparent and over-communicate where they are in each step." An hour-long phone interview is followed by in-person interviews with multiple people in what's known as Amazon's "loop" system. It works like this: Candidates come in and interview with about six employees one at a time, with each employee asking questions about one or two of the leadership principles. Interviewers type detailed notes, which limits the amount of eye contact that they make with candidates. All in, the process can last six or more hours, according to sources. Most of the interviewers are employees in the area the candidate is interviewing for. There's also a person called a bar-raiser from a different department. Sources said that candidates might not know which interviewer is the bar-raiser. These people are well regarded internally and undergo rigorous training to act as a neutral party whose role is to ask tough questions. Bar-raisers are meant to make sure that the candidate is better than half of the employees who currently have the role. Both the bar-raiser and hiring manager have to agree to make an offer to a candidate. "Their job is to dig deeper and probe you — they'll always ask 'Why?'" said Rina Yashayeva, VP of marketplace strategy at Stella Rising, an ad agency that specializes in Amazon and a former Amazon employee who worked there for three years. "Everything should be backed by data." While Amazon's interview process is rigorous and specific to the company, Downstream's Folley said going through the process is a good way to get jobs elsewhere. Downstream's hiring system uses the same method as Amazon's. "We find often times in our hiring that when presented with a rigorous hiring process, the right kind of candidate appreciates it, sees it as a challenge and feels comfortable aligning their personal brand and career with that organization," he said. "It's almost like the process of becoming a Navy SEAL. You see the challenge, want to prove that you can meet it, and become part of that team."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Apple forever changed the biggest tech event of the year by not showing up