Mark Zuckerberg, in his first comments since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke last Friday, has admitted Facebook has made mistakes and outlined what it plans to do to rebuild trust with it’s users.
Cambridge Analytica, a U.K.-based data-analytics firm hired by the 2016 Trump campaign, got access to data for 50 million Facebook users — without the users’ knowledge or consent.
“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,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post Wednesday. “But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”
Zuckerberg said Facebook will do the following: First, it will investigate all apps that had access to “large amounts of information” before Facebook changed its policies to reduce data access in 2014.
Second, Facebook will restrict developers’ data access “even further to prevent other kinds of abuse,” according to Zuckerberg. For example, it will remove developers’ ability to access user data if a Facebook users hasn’t used their app in three months. Third, within the next month, Facebook will display a tool at the top of the News Feed with apps users have used and an easy way to revoke those apps’ permissions to your data.
Facebook says Aleksandr Kogan, the University of Cambridge researcher who supplied the data to Cambridge Analytica after procuring it through an app dating back to 2013, lied to Facebook and violated its policies. In 2015,Facebook demanded that Cambridge Analytica and Kogan “formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data” and they provided those certifications, according to Zuckerberg.
However, upon learning that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted all the Facebook user data in question, Facebook on March 16 barred Cambridge Analytica and its parent company from using its platform. Facebook says it no longer allows third-party apps to capture data the way that was done in this case.
“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook,” Zuckerberg 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.”
The scandal has caused a PR crisis for and renewed public and regulator scrutiny on Facebook’s data-handling practices from across the world, some users even went as far as to call for a boycott (via the hashtag #DeleteFacebook) and prompted lawsuits from shareholders and users. In turn a two-day selloff of Facebook stock, caused a multi billion dip, before shares recovered somewhat on Wednesday.
Zuckerberg’s silence on the Cambridge Analytica story over the last several days has drawn criticism. The CEO reportedly did not participate in an internal town hall session Tuesday with employees, and morale at Facebook is said to be at a low point.
Facebook is facing an inquiry from the Federal Trade Commission, which is looking into whether the social-media company violated an agreement with the agency regarding user consent over personal data.
At this point, it’s unclear whether the uproar over Cambridge Analytica will lead to new legislation or government regulations.
Various market analysts believe Facebook will weather the storm and expect minimal long-term impact on the internet powerhouse’s overall ad business.
What will be interesting to see if the knock on effect for those who have built small and in many cases large scale and lucrative programmatic facebook agencies.
Utilising the user profiles that Facebook’s data can produce to create very contextual and targeted campaigns.
If Facebook goes through a rough patch, it is not simply a company weathering a storm, it is in itself an ecosystem so there will likely be much collateral damage.
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