Reports first broke on March 17th, 2018 that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica used 50 million Facebook profiles to build models to exploit users.
Now, a March 21st, 2018 Facebook post from Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges user’s concerns, while also acknowledging the company’s role in the privacy scandal.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” said Zuckerberg.
As he sees it, Zuckerberg believes that the breach of user privacy was caused by Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan and Cambridge Analytica.
“In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app,” wrote Zuckerberg. “It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data.”
“…against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent.”
Due to Facebook’s privacy infrastructure at the time, Kogan’s app was able to access “tens of millions of [users’] friends’ data.”
Kogan reportedly later shared data from his personality quiz application to Cambridge Analytica — a transaction that Zuckerberg said was “against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent.”
While Facebook demanded that Cambridge Analytica “formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data,” the company failed to do so.
According to Zuckerberg, the issue was “also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it.”
Facebook has already taken some of the necessary steps to rectify the issue.
“…we also make mistakes, there’s more to do and we need to step up and do it.”
“In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access,” said Zuckerberg. “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.”
“But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”
Zuckerberg also formally acknowledged that the breach of trust wasn’t just between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, but also between Facebook and its users.
Zuckerberg’s post addressed steps that the Menlo Park-based social networking giant will take to address privacy concerns.
“…people can also report to us if they find misuses of data by app developers.”
A March 21st, 2018 Facebook media release also explains how the company plans on resolving potential privacy concerns moving forward.
The six-step plan includes reviewing the Facebook platform; informing users about data misuse, turning off access to unused apps; restricting Facebook’s login data; encouraging users to manage their apps; and expanding the company’s bug bounty program so that “people can also report to us if they find misuses of data by app developers.”
“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,” said Zuckerberg in his March Facebook post.
Canada’s privacy commissioner and the Delete Facebook movement
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) formally launched its investigation into the Facebook privacy issue on March 20th, 2018.
According to a March 20th, 2018 media release, the OPC will “examine Facebook’s compliance with Canada’s federal private sector privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).”
“The allegations we’ve seen in media reports raise extremely important privacy questions,” said Daniel Therrien, the privacy commissioner of Canada, in the same March release. “The digital world, and social media in particular, have become entrenched in our daily lives and people want their rights to be respected.”
Therrien also stated that his office would be in contact with the U.K. information commissioner’s office, which is currently conducting its own investigation.
It is time. #deletefacebook
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) March 20, 2018
Users on social media have started a #DeleteFacebook movement, in the wake of numerous media reports criticizing Facebook for its data sharing efforts.
Brian Acton, the co-founder of instant messaging app WhatsApp, expressed support for the movement in a March 20th, 2018 tweet.
WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for approximately $19.3 billion USD.