FB chief admits mistake for data leak

CEO breaks silence with plan to limit abuse after London-based firm acquired users data without consent
NEW YORK: Facebook has a responsibility to protect the data of its users and it is taking action to prevent leaks in the future, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday.
Zuckerberg broke his silence following disclosure of a massive data leak with a post on the social media site in which he said he has been “working to understand exactly what happened” when Cambridge Analytica acquired the private information of approximately 50 million Facebook users without their permission.
Reports last Saturday suggested the London-based private data analysis company also used the data in U.S. elections in 2014 and 2016, as well as during Brexit.
Zuckerberg said his company took actions years ago to prevent such leaks. “But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”
His post included details about how the recent leak occurred. It said Cambridge University researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, created a personality quiz application in 2013 that was installed by about 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data.
In 2015, Kogan shared information from the application with Cambridge Analytica, the post said, adding it is against Facebook policies for developers to share data without users’ 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,” Zuckerberg wrote.
He listed a series of actions Facebook will take to prevent leaks including investigating all applications that had access to large amounts of information and would conduct a full audit of any application with suspicious activity.
The company will also further restrict developers’ data access to prevent other kinds of abuse and will make sure users understand which of their applications that they have allowed will access their data.
In a separate statement, Facebook said it would turn off access for unused applications, restrict login data, encourage users to manage applications they use and reward those who find vulnerabilities and misuses of data.
“I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform,” Zuckerberg wrote.
After falling nearly 10 percent Monday and Tuesday, Facebook shares showed signs of recovery Wednesday, finishing up 0.7 percent.
The stock’s performance Thursday will be indicative of if Zuckerberg’s call for change resonates with investors.–AA

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