Following reports on the breach of data contract between Facebook and Kogan, which involved unpermitted sharing of subscribers’ data with Cambridge Analytica, Founder of the social media platform, Mark Zuckerberg has accepted responsibility over the lapse and has further set up modalities that will prevent such occurrence in the future.
Speaking on the issue, Zuckerberg said: “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… at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform.”
He explained that in 2014, to prevent abusive apps, Facebook announced the change of the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Aleksandr Kogan’s personality quiz app could no longer ask for data about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from us before they could request any sensitive data from people. These actions would prevent any app like Kogan’s from being able to access so much data today.
Prior to the announcement, in 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app which was installed by about 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. “Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data,” Zuckerberg explained.
He continues: “In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent, so we immediately banned Kogan’s app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. They provided these certifications.” However, it was recently learnt that Cambridge Analytica did not expunge the data which was a breach of trust between the companies, bringing about the placement of ban on the research firm. “This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.”
Zuckerberg however assured that Facebook, despite haven taken the most important step by dramatically reducing data access in 2014, will take further steps to ensure the security of users’ data.
These steps he said include:
Investigating all apps that had access to large amounts of information before the Platform was changed in 2014, and conducting of full audit of any app with suspicious activity. “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. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.”
Restriction of developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse. “For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo, and email address. We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data.”
Sensitization of users on permitted app access to individual 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.”
While applauding the move to address the situation, many respondents noted that the social media guru should do more especially in the area of wider publicity and engaging the press, which Zuckerberg said has already started.
According to social analyst, David Kirkpatrick: “It’s good you’ve written something, but taking questions from the press in person would begin – just begin – to rebuild the toxic decline in trust this incident and all the other recent data lapses have engendered. In my opinion you should not hide behind a Facebook post when you lead a company with the data of 2.2 billion people that many of us now fear is jeopardizing democracy at a global scale. It’s sad to have to write it this way, but so it is.”
Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service company based in California. Its website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.
The founders initially limited the website’s membership to Harvard students; later they expanded it to higher education institutions in the Boston area, the Ivy League schools, and Stanford University. Facebook gradually added support for students at various other universities, and eventually to high school students. Since 2006, it has been open globally to legally eligible individuals.