Mark Zuckerberg outlines Facebook's response to Cambridge Analytica controversy

After several days of silence, the Facebook founder and CEO calls the incident a "breach of trust"
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer
CNET/CBS Interactive

After several days of silence on the matter, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday addressed the controversy surrounding Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that hoarded and misused data from Facebook users to the benefit of the Trump presidential campaign.

"We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

"The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago," he continued. "But we also made mistakes, there's more to do, and we need to step up and do it."

According to Zuckerberg, Facebook has a three-step plan to crack down on platform abuse:

  • App audit: For starters, Zuckerberg said the company will investigate all apps that had access to "large amounts" of information before Facebook changed its data access policy in 2014. The company will conduct a "full audit" of any of those apps with "suspicious activity," Zuckerberg said, and it'll ban any developer who doesn't agree to an audit. If Facebook finds a developer mishandled data, they will be banned and Facebook will "tell everyone affected by those apps." He added, "That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well."
  • Restrict developers' access to data: Additionally, Facebook will further restrict developers' data access. For instance, an app developer will lose access to a user's data if that user hasn't used the app in question in three months.
  • New tool on news feed: Lastly, Zuckerberg noted that Facebook will add a tool to the top of the news feed, enabling users to easily view and revoke app data access. This tool currently exists in Facebook's privacy settings, where it's harder to find.

News broke last week that Cambridge Analytica used private information from 50 million Facebook profiles to help propel Donald Trump to the White House. That data was collected in 2013 by a benign-looking personality prediction app, developed by Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American researcher and lecturer at the University of Cambridge. Kogan handed over the data to Cambridge Analytica without the users' permission, violating Facebook's policies.

Earlier this week, Facebook said it has hired an independent auditor to audit both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica. Last week, Facebook's general counsel objected to calling the incident a "data breach." However, Zuckerberg on Wednesday referred to the incident as a "breach of trust."

"This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook," he wrote. "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."

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