Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has admitted the social media network breached the trust of its users and revealed the steps it will take to tighten the data security of users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Pressure has mounted on Facebook since a Cambridge Analytica whistleblower described in detail how it used the social media platform to harvest the profiles of between 50 million to 60 million users in a campaign to get Donald Trump elected to US president in the 2016.
Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook made mistakes in handling the situation which it first became aware of in 2015.
He said that while there had been a breach of trust between Facebook, Cambridge University professor Aleksandr Kogan and Cambridge Analytica, the social media network had also breached the trust of “the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”.
To fix the problem, Facebook is conducting an audit of all apps that had access to large amounts of users and friends data prior to changes in 2014 that prevented developers from access large amounts it.
“We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook will also ban developers' access to user data for apps that lay dormant for three months or more. It will also restrict the amount of data to “only your name, profile photo, and email address”.
It will also take steps to better notify users of privacy settings that restrict the amount of data users share with developers.
Labor's message to Facebook
In Australia, federal Labor MP Mark Dreyfus has called on Facebook and the government to look into whether any Australians have been affected by the scandal.
“It will be of concern to all Australians who use Facebook that Cambridge Analytica has allegedly used the data of 50 million American Facebook users without their consent,” Dreyfus told AdNews.
“Labor wants to hear from Facebook whether anyone in Australia has had their data used in this way. The government needs to look into this immediately and find out whether any Australians have had their data used and whether any laws have been broken.
“If the privacy of Australians has been illegally breached, the government must act to ensure it does not happen again.”
A Facebook spokesperson told AdNews it takes the private information of users seriously and is investigating.
Yesterday, Thinkerbell co-founder Adam Ferrier told AdNews the scandal was another “nail in the coffin of trust” in how companies collect and use data.
Ferrier's comments about tech companies rolling out new innovations without properly considering their impact are more poignant today.
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