People and politicians alike have been waiting for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to provide answers on the recent Cambridge Analytica controversy. Zuckerberg has been staying quiet for the last few days, but that’s no longer the case because he’s responded in a lengthy post.
On his personal Facebook page, Zuckerberg pledged to investigate “all apps that had access to large amounts of information” before Facebook changed its policy in 2014. Additionally, he promised to more actively control the kind of data developers access.
“The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago,” he wrote. “But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”
Reading through his response, he spends the first part of it running through the events as we know them, but we get a clear understanding of the situation. Here’s what basically happened: a Cambridge researcher created a personality quiz that was taken by around 300,000 people, but due to the way Facebook’s Friend API worked at the time, those 300,000 people inadvertently also provided information about the people in their own social circles. Cambridge Analytica and Kogan, managed to walk away with data from tends of millions of people. When Facebook discovered this, it banned the app and insisted all the data be deleted immediately. It turns out that it wasn’t the case, so Facebook recently banned Cambridge Analytica from the platform and hired a forensics firm to audit CA’s system to make sure all of the data was really gone.
After bringing everyone up to speed, Zuckerberg dives into a plan for ensuring that incidents like this don’t ever happen again. Firstly, this will involve Facebook investigating apps that had access to broader reaches of user information before it shut down the API. Developers that fall into this and do not agree to an audit will receive an outright ban.
Moving forward, the company will prevent developers from re-accessing your data if you haven’t used the apps within three months of your last access. Facebook also plans to reduce the amount of personal information developers can access when you sign into an app or service with your Facebook account, which is usually a more convenient way of signing up for partnered services. According to Zuckerberg, “only your name, profile photo, and email address” will be shared. Finally, Facebook will make an existing tool that allowed users to revoke data access to apps more prominent by placing it at the top right of your news feeds.
These are some solid steps set forth by Zuckerberg and Facebook and not just a “we’re sorry” appearance. Reading through the post, the closest you’ll see him get close to an apology is when he makes references to “mistakes” the company has made.