In case you missed what’s going on with Facebook, here’s the low down. A data mining and analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica took Facebook user data and misused it in violation of Facebook’s terms and guidelines. This misuse of data played a large role in the influencing of voters in the US 2016 presidential elections.
Today, founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has broken his silence and released a lengthy statement on Facebook surrounding the ongoing data scandal between Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and the influencing of users during the 2016 US electrions.
We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.
Zuckerberg provided a timeline of events including the 2013 data breach of a personality quiz app that was used to collect millions of people’s sensitive information. Later in 2015, Aleksander Kogan, Cambridge university researcher who created the quiz app shared the users’ information with Cambridge Analytica without the user’s consent.
Facebook immediately banned Kogan’s app from Facebook and demanded a formal confirmation that both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica deleted all improperly acquired detail, both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica complied, by this point the damage had already been done, this was 2015. Last week’s reports suggested that Cambridge Analytica may have falsely claimed that the data was deleted since the influencing of elections would happen just the next year.
Zuckerberg says that actions to prevent this sort of thing have already been taken in 2014. However, the damage snowballed since 2013 with the wrongfully acquired data by Kogan’s personality quiz. Zuckerberg acknowledges that more action needs to be taken to prevent bad actors from misusing Facebook user data, which he outlined in the post:
- Facebook will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information from before the 2014 update and will audit any apps with suspicious activity and will ban any developer that does not cooperate with a thorough audit and Facebook will notify all users of the app including those people who used Kogan’s personality app.
- Facebook will further restrict developer’s access to personal data by removing developer’s access to data if a user hasn’t used the app in three months. The only thing that developers will be able to see from then on will be name, profile photo, and email address. In addition to user approval, devs will also need to sign a contract before asking anyone for further info.
- In the next month, Facebook will show all users a tool at the top of the News Feed that can be used to revoke apps that you’ve allowed access to your info in the past. (This tool already exists in the Privacy settings, but Facebook will highlight it in the News Feed so it’s more visible).
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.
So there you have it. Facebook has already done what was needed to prevent this sort of thing that happened, but it unfortunately was an event that would happen a few years after the floodgates were closed, so to speak.
Mark Zuckerberg interview with CNN will air tonight at 9PM EST during Anderson Cooper 360.
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