Zuckerberg apologises for Cambridge Analytica breach

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that the social media 'made mistakes' and that he would not let it happen again 

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that the social network "made mistakes" that led to millions of Facebook users having their data exploited by a political consultancy.

The Observer has recently revealed how the company let 50m users’ information fall into the hands of election manipulators. Tech firm Cambridge Analytica is accused of improperly using the data on behalf of political clients.

In a statement, Zuckerberg said a "breach of trust" had occurred. In a later interview with CNN he said he was "really sorry", and pledged to take action against "rogue apps".

He added that he was "happy" to testify before Congress "if it's the right thing to do".

Zuckerberg promised Facebook will change the way it shares data to third-party applications; investigate apps that previously had access to “ large amounts of information” or showed suspicious activity; and notify users whose data has been misused. The CEO admitted there could be “thousands” of apps involved.

In his statement posted on Facebook, he promised to make it far harder for apps to "harvest" user information.

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

In future, he said Facebook would:

  • restrict developers' data access "even further" to prevent other kinds of abuse
  • remove developers' access to a user's data if the user hadn't activated the developer's app for three months
  • reduce the data that users give an app when they sign in to just name, profile photo, and email address
  • require developers to obtain approval and also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data

Zuckerberg added: "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."

After Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan harvested the data via a Facebook app, then improperly passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, it had been a “mistake” to rely on their certifications that they had destroyed it, said Zuckerberg in a CNN interview. “We need to make sure that we don’t make that mistake ever again.”

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