Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been noticeably absent since news broke of Cambridge Analytica harvesting millions upon millions of its users’ data, but he’s finally come out of hiding to address the scandal. Admitting the company’s “mistakes,” Zuckerberg focused more on what actions the firm will take to clean up this mess and prevent it from happening again.
Zuckerberg attributes his silence to his focus on understanding “exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again.” He states that the data breach originated from a personality quiz made by a Cambridge University researcher called Aleksandr Kogan back in 2013, paying around 300,000 people to share their data. The application then gathered the data of their friends until it gave them access to tens of millions of users.
“The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago,” explained Zuckerberg. Facebook had banned developers from harvesting the data of the consenting party’s friends in 2014. By 2015, the data gathered by Kogan was shared to Cambridge Analytica.
“We immediately banned Kogan's app from our platform and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. They provided these certifications,” confirms Zuckerberg. “Last week, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified.”
Naturally, Facebook was adamant about protecting the data from becoming public and in an unsurprising turn of events, supposedly threatened the publications in order to keep things hush. Luckily, that didn’t happen and speedy progress has been made to rectify the mistakes made.
Facebook has now banned both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica from using any of its services, despite the firm remaining adamant that it did nothing wrong. Cambridge Analytica has agreed to a forensic audit to prove that is has already deleted the data like it originally said.
Moving forward, the platform will “investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity,” according to Zuckerberg. Any non-compliant apps will be immediately banned.
“First, 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 three months,” stated Zuckerberg. “Second, we will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo, and email address.”
And lastly, the company plans to outline the permissions you’re giving up more clearly, as well as present a tool for removing these permissions on-the-fly.
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KitGuru Says: It’s good that the platform is being proactive, but at this point Facebook has already lost a lot of trust. Is it too little, too late for the company to recover from this mistake?