Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made his first public statement since the Cambridge Analytica story broke on the weekend, promising to tighten the rules around how developers can access data on the platform.
In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg provided a timeline of how the scandal occured and announced further steps to prevent misuse of data on its platform.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. 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. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s market cap has dropped by nearly $50 billion since Friday.
The controversy dates back to 2013 when researcher Aleksandr Kogan was able to collect Facebook information of 50 million people without their consent or knowledge via the app Thisisyourdigitallife, which was all above board based on how the platform worked at the time. That data then ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, the analytics firm responsible for Trump’s digital advertising spend during the 2016 presidential campaign. That’s the part Facebook was upset about.
Zuckerberg said the platform has already changed the rules that allow Kogan to collect so much data, and promised to take a closer look at how developers had collected Facebook data in the past.
“While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Facebook will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before it changed its platform “to dramatically reduce data access in 2014.” Any developer that doesn’t pass the audit will be banned from Facebook.
Users will be notified if it is discovered their data has been misused, inlcuding those who downloaded — or whose friends downloaded — Kogan’s Thisisyourdigitallife.
The social network also plans to restrict developer access to data, for example it will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in three months. And when you sign into an app using Facebook it will only get access to your name, profile photo, and email address.
Facebook also plans to make it easier for users to see which apps have their data.
“In the next month, we will show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you’ve used and an easy way to revoke those apps’ permissions to your data. We already have a tool to do this in your privacy settings, and now we will put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Facebook will also expand its bug bounty program so that people can also report to Facebook if they find misuses of data by app developers.