Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) lamented a “breach of trust” which allowed data mining company Cambridge Analytica to access hordes of user information for political gain.
Addressing the issue for the first time on Wednesday (21 March), Zuckerberg acknowledged in a post the social media company has a “responsibility to protect your data”. He noted actions taken years ago would prevent a similar occurrence from happening today, but added “there’s more we need to do” to keep user data safe.
Specifically, Zuckerberg outlined a new three-part plan which includes reducing the amount of user data collected by apps and revoking developer access to user data if an app hasn’t been used in three months. He also said Facebook will investigate all apps which had access to large amounts of data in the past and ban any developer that does not agree to a full audit.
Additionally, he revealed plans to roll out a tool at the top of users’ News Feed enabling them to see what apps have access to their data and revoke those permissions at will.
How it all started
Late last week, The New York Times and The Guardian reported Cambridge Analytica obtained information on as many as 50 million Facebook users, which was used to target voters ahead of the 2016 US election. The news prompted backlash not only from Facebook users themselves, but also lawmakers in Washington DC.
Zuckerberg confirmed University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan gathered the data via a platform app in 2013. He said Facebook learned Kogan had passed it on to the analytics company in violation of its terms of service in 2015.
The Facebook chief demanded Cambridge Analytica “formally certify they had deleted all improperly acquired data”. He conceded reports indicate Cambridge Analytica “may not have deleted the data as they had certified”, but said Facebook has hired a forensic audit company to investigate.
Zuckerberg added changes made in 2014 would “prevent any app like Kogan’s from being able to access so much data today”.
He concluded: “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. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.”