It has been a long week for Facebook. After five days of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally came out of ‘ghosting’ and decided to apologize for what he called a ‘major breach of trust’ of users.
Last weekend, it was discovered that data firm, Cambridge Analytica, allegedly duped Facebook into accessing and manipulating users’ personal information to possibly influence the US Presidential elections last year. The firm reportedly accessed information from about 50 million users without their knowledge. According to Facebook, the data was initially collected by a professor for academic purposes in line with the company’s rules. However, it was later transferred to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, which stood in violation of Facebook’s policies.
After five days of the scandal hit headlines, Zuckerberg issued a long note through his Facebook page, and also appeared for an interview with CNN where he not only acknowledged and apologized for the breach, but also announced some major changes the company will implement to avoid such a mishandling of information in the near future.
This was a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened. We have a basic responsibility to protect peoples’ data.
In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg reiterates that the company has a responsibility to protect users’ data.
We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.
It is not the first time that the company has faced flak over security. However, this time around, because of the reported connection of the data firm to US President Donald Trump whose victory in the elections is still debated upon, Facebook is facing lawsuits from investors and users, along with a very damaging #DeleteFacebook movement, participated by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.
As lawmakers in the US and UK have asked Zuckerberg to testify before Congress, the CEO said that he would be happy to do so.
I am happy to if that’s the right thing to do. Facebook regularly testifies to Congress regularly on a number of topics. Our objective is to provide Congress with the most information that they need. What we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge. If that’s me, then I am happy to go.
Zuckerberg pledged to protect users’ data and announced a set of new rules that the company will follow to make sure a scandal like Cambridge Analytica does not recur.
Our responsibility now is to make sure this does not happen again. There’re a few basic things we need to ensure to do this. One is to make sure developers like Alexander Kogan who got access to lot of information, do not get access to as much information going forward. The other is we need to make sure there are not any other Cambridge Analyticas out there.
We are gonna go now and investigate every app that has access to a large amount of information from before we lock down our platform. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit.
Given the massive scale at which the scandal has taken place, it is natural for users’ to feel insecure. As a result of the scandal, many have pledged to ‘Delete Facebook’ as well. In order to assure users of their privacy and safety. Zuckerberg detailed some steps to contain the damage.
One of the most important things we are going to do here is make sure we tell those whose data has been affected by one of these rogue apps. We are going to build a tool where anyone can check if their data was part of this.
It’s hard to know what we’ll find, but we are going to review thousands of apps. This is going to be an intensive process.
We will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months.
In the next month, we will show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you’ve used and an easy way to revoke those apps’ permissions to your data.
In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg also outlined some of the steps the company implemented over the years to prevent data breaches. In order to prevent abusive apps, Facebook dramatically limit the data apps could access in 2014.
It was a year later when the company learned about the unauthorized access Kogan and Cambridge Analytica had to millions of users’ data. Facebook says it promptly banned the personality quiz app Kogan built and demanded for the defaulters to formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. Even after providing the certifications, it was discovered last week that the firm may not have actually deleted the data.
Going forward, if we find apps doing sketchy things, we are going to tell people.
Claiming entire responsibility, Zuckerberg reiterated that the company is committed to users’ privacy.
I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community.