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Facebook apologizes for data scandal, outlines next steps

EPA / PETER DASILVA

Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized in a post on his social network for the recent scandal involving data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. The company has been accused of breaching privacy by collecting personal user information of more than 50 million people through an app on Facebook, from which it was later suspended. It was contracted by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to research potential voters, but insisted none of the data was used in the campaign. According to the post, Facebook found out about the privacy breach in 2015 and demanded that Cambridge Analytica delete all the information. It was only after media reports this week that the social media giant found out the form may have kept the data.

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.

Zuckerberg also listed the steps his company intends to undertake to avoid similar incidents. He promised to investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before data access was reduced in 2014, as well as to audit any app with suspicious activity. The platform will further limit data access to app developers and help users better understand the permissions they give apps within Facebook. In an interview for CNN, Zuckerberg considered the notion of regulation. “If you look at how much regulation there is around advertising on TV and print, it’s just not clear why there should be less on the internet,”he said. He added he would be “happy to” testify before Congress in the matter if he is asked to.

World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee tweeted his sympathy for the Facebook boss, saying companies should work with governments, activists, academics and web users to “make sure platforms serve humanity.” He stressed the importance of privacy and tight control of data access and called on users to “care about” their data and get involved in the “fight for the web.” “I may have invented the web, but you make it what it is. And it’s up to all of us to build a web that reflects our hopes & fulfils our dreams more than it magnifies our fears & deepens our divisions,” he concluded.

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