The Facebook CEO has admitted to 'mistakes' over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but with lawmakers breathing down his neck has failed to explain why it took a media probe for the company to finally investigate the Big Data firm.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on March 22, 2018

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has broken his almost week-long silence over the Cambridge Analytica scandal with a lengthy post on the social media platform.

Since news broke that Cambridge Analytica had illegally accessed and stored data from 50 million Facebook users to create targeted advertising on behalf of the Donald Trump election campaign, this is the first time the company’s head has been heard from.

During the radio silence, more than $30 billion was wiped from Facebook’s market cap, and a #DeleteFacebook movement gathered steam with the endorsement of WhatsApp (bought by Facebook) co-founder Brian Acton.

The billionaire finally emerged from his bunker on Wednesday to declare Facebook was investigating how the data-harvesting occurred, and to detail the “new steps” being taken to guarantee the protection of users’ personal information in the future.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he said in the statement.

“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.”

We also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.

But what’s missing from Zuckerberg’s statement is why his team didn’t ensure that Cambridge Analytica had destroyed the farmed data, as it was instructed to do once Facebook was made aware of the breach.

It is also clear that a lot more could have been done to prevent the third-party’s access and inappropriate use in the first place.

Which is why lawmakers from both sides of the Atlantic are demanding Zuckerberg testifies in person, rather than issuing controlled statements like this.

Future safeguards

According to Zuckerberg’s post, a raft of new policies are being introduced to prevent app developers from abusing user data.

These include:

— Blocking data access of apps you haven’t used for three months or more
— Auditing old apps that collected a lot of personal data
— Reducing the amount of data apps can pull using Facebook Login without an additional permissions screen to just your name, profile photo, and email address
— Requiring a signed contract from developers that want to pull your posts or private information
— Surfacing Facebook’s privacy third-party app privacy settings tool atop the News Feed to help people repeal access to apps
— Telling people if their data was misued by the app associated with Cambridge Analytica, or apps Facebook bans for misue in the future.

Sandberg apologises

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has also gone to ground since The Guardian and New York Times joint-probe outed the security breach.

But moments after Zuckerberg released his statement, she shared the post and reiterated that Facebook’s response had not been good enough.

“Sharing Mark’s post addressing the Cambridge Analytica news. As he said, we know that this was a major violation of peoples’ trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it,” she wrote.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data – and if we can’t, then we don’t deserve to serve you.”