Mark Zuckerberg has broken his silence, finally admitting to a “breach of trust” amid reports that Facebook recklessly handed over troves of user data that were exploited by a political consulting firm during the 2016 presidential election.
In a Wednesday afternoon Facebook post, Zuckerberg said the social network “made mistakes” and vowed to prevent another disaster by auditing thousands of apps and reining in their access to user data.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg said, before launching into a blow-by-blow timeline explaining how the scandal unfolded.
Zuckerberg pinned part of the blame on Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data firm that hoovered up private info on 50 million users in an effort to tip the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.
He griped that there was “a breach of trust” between Facebook and the data firm, and singled out Aleksandr Kogan, the UK researcher who provided the data to Cambridge, nine times in his post.
Kogan, for his part, told the BBC in a Wednesday interview that he was being used as “a scapegoat” by Facebook and the controversial data firm.
The crisis has prompted lawmakers in the US and Europe to call on Zuckerberg to testify, even as it has slammed Facebook’s stock and raised questions on Wall Street about the company’s management.
Zuckerberg — whose execs less than a week ago had quibbled over the use of the word “breach” to describe the company’s data spill — also admitted to a breach of trust “between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it.”
Moving forward, Zuckerberg said, Facebook will investigate any apps that had access to large amounts of user information before it changed its data access policy in 2014. Suspicious apps will be audited and banned if they won’t submit to an audit, he said.
Zuckerberg also promised that anyone affected by apps that misused personally identifiable information will be notified by the social network, including the 50 million whose data fell into the hands of Cambridge Analytica.
Developers will now have their access to user data severely restricted from the start, and will only be able to see users’ names, profile photos and email addresses when they sign up.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based social network will also roll out a new tool that will allow users to more easily see which apps currently have access to their data.
“I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform,” Zuckerberg said.
“We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward,” he added.
Zuckerberg’s feel-good statement didn’t impress his company’s harshest critics. Senators Edward Markey and Amy Klobuchar took to social media to remind the CEO that they still expect him to visit Washington.
“You need to come to Congress and testify to this under oath,” Markey said
Source: New York Post