Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Breaks Silence
Mark Zuckerberg

New Delhi: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday admitted to making mistakes over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and said that the social media giant needs to 'step up'.

"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," Zuckerberg added in a post on Facebook.

News broke this weekend that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump's campaign, reportedly accessed information from about 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Facebook says the data was initially collected by a professor for academic purposes in line with its rules. The information was later transferred to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook's policies.

The Facebook CEO promised to take a series of steps to protect data and fix what he called a "breach of trust" between the social network and its users.

"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," Zuckerberg posted on Facebook.

Zuckerberg took responsibility over the breach and said that he would ensure that the platform is secure. "I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform. I'm serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward," he wrote.

In his post, Zuckerberg said the social media giant is already taking steps to restrict developers' access to user data, including automatically removing access for any app the user hasn't opened in at least three months.

In future, he said Facebook would:

  • restrict developers' data access "even further" to prevent other kinds of abuse
  • remove developers' access to a user's data if the user hadn't activated the developer's app for three months
  • reduce the data that users give an app when they sign in to just name, profile photo, and email address
  • require developers to obtain approval and also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data

Authorities in Britain and the United States are investigating the data breach. Canada's privacy commissioner said he's asked Facebook to confirm "whether the personal information of Facebook users in Canada was affected."

Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm with ties to United States President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign, suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, on Tuesday, amid a furor over the access it gained to private information on more than 50 million Facebook users.

The decision to suspend Nix came after a television broadcast for Britain's Channel 4 News, in which Nix suggested unethical practices to influence foreign elections on record, according to The New York Times. He was also recorded saying the London-based company ran Donald Trump's digital campaign during the 2016 US election. "We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy," he added.

On March 21, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton took to Twitter asking everyone to delete Facebook. Acton, whose product was bought by Facebook in 2014 for a whopping USD 16 billion, took to the microblogging platform and said "It is time. #deletefacebook" after concerns were flagged on data privacy in the wake of revelations about Cambridge Analytica's alleged misuse of user data.