Thursday 22nd November 2018

Zuckerberg apologises for Facebook’s data snafu and promises to limit developer access

Jason Smith
by on 22nd March 2018

Mark Zuckerberg has, in a series of interviews, apologized for the Cambridge Analytica data snafu and has vowed to limit developer access to Facebook’s data moving forward.

The interviews relate to the alleged improper use of data by Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based firm which specializes in data mining and analysis for political campaigns.

Cambridge Analytica’s services were utilized by Donald Trump’s campaign during the U.S. election in 2016, however the company claims in an official press release on its website that the data in question was not used for the Trump campaign. In reference to the media, it also stated its “detailed  responses to their questions ahead of publication were largely ignored in their subsequent reporting”.

According to Facebook, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan obtained user data from his app “thisisyourdigitallife,” data which was subsequently passed to Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook claims Kogan didn’t violate its terms of service in obtaining the data — according to Facebook he obtained the data legitimately — rather he violated its terms of service when he passed user data obtained through the app onto Cambridge Analytica, and another firm called Eunoia Technologies.

Facebook claims that when it learned of the violation in 2015 it requested certifications from all companies in possession of the data that it had been deleted.

Kogan’s app was removed from the platform and Facebook claims all organizations which obtained data from the app certified that the data had been deleted.

A number of news organizations reported it as a “data breach,” which both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have explicitly denied; Facebook has stated on its website “no sensitive pieces of information were…hacked” and “no systems were infiltrated”.

While Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform on March 16th and following reports that not all the data had been deleted, its silence on the issue over the last few days has prompted many media organizations to devote endless column inches to speculating why Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t come forward with an announcement.

In interviews over the last 24 hours, Zuckerberg has stated this was “a major breach of trust” and that he’s “really sorry” it happened.

He also spent time reiterating the points he made in an official post about Cambridge Analytica on his Facebook page, notably that Facebook “already took the most important steps a few years ago in 2014 to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information in this way”.

In an interview with the technology news website Recode, Zuckerberg also stated “I feel fundamentally uncomfortable sitting here in California in an office making content policy decisions for people around the world”.

He also went on to say “where’s the line on hate speech? I mean, who chose me to be the person that did that?”

In the official post on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg also announced a range of new measures to try and further protect users’ data, namely:

  • Facebook will conduct a full investigation on all apps which had access to large amounts of data prior to the changes implemented in 2014.
  • Facebook will remove developer access to user data if a user hasn’t used an app in more than three months.
  • Over the next month, Facebook will implement a tool which will show users which apps they’ve granted permission to at the top of their news feed.