News, Culture & Society

Zuckerberg says Facebook made mistakes on user data

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was humbled on US TV last night as he said sorry for the ‘major breach of trust’ after 50million members had their personal data harvested without their knowledge.

The billionaire, 33, also announced a crackdown on apps used to hijack details from users after the Cambridge Analytica scandal slashed the social network’s value by $50billion (£35m) and his own fortune by $5billion (£3.5m).   

Speaking for the first time last night, five days after the data breach emerged, he said: ‘This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry that this happened. Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn’t happen again’. 

And in contrite message to victims and those planning to delete their profiles he said: ‘We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you’.

He also said they would now notify ‘anyone whose data might have been affected’.

Mr Zuckerberg also admitted he failed to get to grips with Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential race using Facebook and said he is ‘sure someone’s trying’ to meddle with the upcoming US midterm elections. 

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the massive data breach that compromised information of tens of millions of users, adding that he would be ‘happy’ to testify before Congress

WHAT IS FACEBOOK DOING TO FIX ITS DATA MINING PROBLEM?

Mark Zuckerberg finally broke his silence on the misuse of 51 million users’ data Wednesday evening, outlining three steps the firm plans to take to prevent something like this from happening again. This includes:

1. Investigate apps which used old system to get user information 

Apps can no longer access the same amount of information that Kogan did through quizzes thanks to a 2014 change in Facebook policy however it remains unclear how many took advantage of the old rules before they changed. 

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg said Facebook’s first step was to go back and look at what they still know. 

2.  Make the rules even tighter for app developers 

If a person has not engaged with an app for three months, Facebook will remove their access to you. 

They will also restrict what information they do get in the first place to only your name, profile photo, and email address. If they want more, they will have to sign a contract and get approval. 

3. Introduce tool to show what companies already know about you 

The tool will appear in the next month or so on users’ news feeds. 

He said: ‘What’s clear is that in 2016, we were not as on top of a number of issues as we should have, whether it was Russian interference or fake news’.

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that his company made mistakes in how it handled data belonging to 50 million of its users and promised tougher steps to restrict developers’ access to such information. 

He also admitted it was ‘clearly a mistake’ to trust Cambridge Analytica (CA) when Facebook asked the British data firm to delete tens of millions of users’ data.

The Facebook founder said CA had provided formal assurances that data harvested from 50 million profiles had been destroyed after the breach was revealed in 2015.

‘I don’t know about you, but I’m used to when people legally certify that they are going to do something, that they do it. But I think this was clearly a mistake in retrospect,’ Mr Zuckerberg told CNN.

The billionaire, who has been called on to give evidence to MPs in person over the scandal, said he would be happy to appear before US Congress ‘if it’s the right thing to do’. But he did not say he was willing to face the British parliament to answer questions.

On Wednesday, the generally reclusive Zuckerberg sat for an interview on CNN and gave another to the publication Wired, addressing reports that Cambridge Analytica purloined the data of more than 50 million Facebook users in order to sway elections. 

The Trump campaign paid the firm $6million during the 2016 election, although it has since distanced itself from Cambridge.

Zuckerberg apologized for a ‘major breach of trust,’ admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect users following Cambridge’s data grab. 

His mea culpa on cable television came a few hours after he acknowledged his company’s mistakes in a Facebook post , but without saying he was sorry.

Zuckerberg and Facebook’s No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, had been quiet since news broke Friday that Cambridge may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections. 

They also failed to show up for a crisis meeting at the company on Tuesday, leading to accusations of weak management. 

CA’s clients included Donald Trump’s campaign.

Facebook shares have dropped some 8 percent, lopping about $46 billion off the company’s market value, since the revelations were first published. 

The world’s largest social media network is facing growing government scrutiny in Europe and the United States about a whistleblower’s allegations that London-based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed user information to build profiles on American voters which were later used to help elect President Donald Trump in 2016.

Zuckerberg, in his first public comments since the scandal erupted at the weekend, said in a post on Facebook that the company ‘made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.’

 

He did not elaborate on what the mistakes were, but he said the social network plans to conduct an investigation of apps on its platform, restrict developer access to data, and give members a tool that lets them more easily disable access to their Facebook data.

His plans did not represent a big reduction of advertisers’ ability to use Facebook data, which is the company’s lifeblood.

 

Zuckerberg said he was open to additional government regulation and happy to testify before the US Congress if he was the right person.

‘I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,’ he said. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Zuckerberg broke his silence over the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Wednesday in a lengthy Facebook post shared at 3.50pm

Earlier on Wednesday, Zuckerberg broke his silence over the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Wednesday in a lengthy Facebook post shared at 3.50pm

‘I actually think the question is more what is the right regulation rather than yes or no, should it be regulated? … People should know who is buying the ads that they see on Facebook.’

Facebook shares pared gains on Wednesday after Zuckerberg’s post, closing up 0.7 percent. 

The company has lost more than $45billion of its stock market value over the past three days on investor fears that any failure by big tech firms to protect personal data could deter advertisers and users and invite tougher regulation.

Facebook representatives including Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman met US congressional staff for nearly two hours on Wednesday and planned to continue meetings on Capitol Hill on Thursday. 

Facebook was unable to answer many questions, two aides who attended the briefing said.

The announcement sent Facebook's struggling stock back up after a treacherous few days

The announcement sent Facebook’s struggling stock back up after a treacherous few days

Zuckerberg told the website Recode that fixes to protect users’ data would cost ‘many millions of dollars.’

The whistleblower who launched the scandal, Christopher Wylie, formerly of Cambridge Analytica, said in a tweet that he had accepted invitations to testify before US and UK lawmakers.

The German government said Facebook must explain whether the personal data of the country’s 30 million users were protected from unlawful use by third parties, according to a report in the Funke group of German regional newspapers.

On Tuesday, the board of Cambridge Analytica suspended its Chief Executive Alexander Nix, who was caught in a secret recording boasting that his company played a decisive role in Trump’s victory.

MARK ZUCKERBERG’S STATEMENT ON CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA

I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we’ve already taken and our next steps to address this important issue.

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.

Here’s a timeline of the events:

In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social. Your calendar should be able to show your friends’ birthdays, your maps should show where your friends live, and your address book should show their pictures. To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them.

In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.

In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Kogan’s could no longer ask for data about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from us before they could request any sensitive data from people. These actions would prevent any app like Kogan’s from being able to access so much data today.

In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent, so 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.

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. We immediately banned them from using any of our services. Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to confirm this. We’re also working with regulators as they investigate what happened.

This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.

In this case, we already took the most important steps a few years ago in 2014 to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information in this way. But there’s more we need to do and I’ll outline those steps here:

First, we 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. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.

Second, 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. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo, and email address. We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data. And we’ll have more changes to share in the next few days.

Third, we want to make sure you understand which apps you’ve allowed to access your data. 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. We already have a tool to do this in your privacy settings, and now we will put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it.

Beyond the steps we had already taken in 2014, I believe these are the next steps we must take to continue to secure our platform.

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.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, said she 'deeply regrets' the breach of trust but did not apologize either 

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, said she ‘deeply regrets’ the breach of trust but did not apologize either 

But the academic who provided the data disputed that on Wednesday.

‘I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic, and they’ve made claims that this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that,’ psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, an academic at Cambridge University, told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

Kogan, who gathered the data by running a survey app on Facebook, also said that he was being made a scapegoat by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. 

Christopher Wylie, who describes himself as one of the company's co-founders turned whistleblowers, has revealed how Cambridge Analytica paid $1million for the data of 51 million Facebook users which had been harvested through a personality quiz called This Is Your Digital Life 

It was founded by Aleksandr Kogan (right) who sold the information to Cambridge Analytica

Christopher Wylie, (left) who describes himself as one of the company’s co-founders turned whistleblowers, has revealed how Cambridge Analytica paid $1million for the data of 51 million Facebook users which had been harvested through a personality quiz called This Is Your Digital Life. It was founded by Aleksandr Kogan (right) who sold the information to Cambridge Analytica

It was Stephen Bannon (pictured) who approved spending almost $1million to acquire data – including from Facebook – in 2014, Wylie said

It was Stephen Bannon (pictured) who approved spending almost $1million to acquire data – including from Facebook – in 2014, Wylie said

WHAT IS FACEBOOK DOING TO FIX IT  

1. Investigate apps which used old system to get user information 

Apps can no longer access the same amount of information that Kogan did through quizzes thanks to a 2014 change in Facebook policy however it remains unclear how many took advantage of the old rules before they changed. 

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg said Facebook’s first step was to go back and look at what they still know. 

2.  Make the rules even tighter for app developers 

If a person has not engaged with an app for three months, Facebook will remove their access to you. 

They will also restrict what information they do get in the first place to only your name, profile photo, and email address. If they want more, they will have to sign a contract and get approval 

3. Introduce tool to show what companies already know about you 

The tool will appear in the next month or so on users’ news feeds 

 

Both companies have blamed Kogan for alleged data misuse.

Only 300,000 Facebook users responded to Kogan’s quiz, but that gave the researcher access to those people´s Facebook friends as well, who had not agreed to share information, producing details on 50 million users.

Facebook has said it subsequently made changes that prevent people from sharing data about friends, and maintains that no data breach occurred because the original users gave permission. 

Critics say that it essentially was a breach because data of unsuspecting friends was taken.

Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica from using any of Facebook’s services on Friday.

Zuckerberg said the company ‘will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse’ and that the company is working with regulators as they investigate what happened.

Many analysts have now raised concerns that the incident will have a negative impact on user engagement with Facebook, potentially reducing its clout with advertisers. 

Three Wall Street brokerages cut their price targets.

‘Investors now have to consider whether or not the company will conclude that it has grown in a manner that has proven to be untenable or whether it needs to significantly improve how it is managed,’ said Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser.

Facebook shares are down more than 8 percent since Friday. 

The company has risen more than 550 percent in value in the past five years.



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk