After being conspicuously silent for days as Facebook came under fire for the Cambridge Analytica controversy, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally come out to make a statement, easing some of the unprecedented pressure faced by the social media giant on its handling and protection of user data.
In a post today on the platform, he said the company is working on preventing similar abuses of privacy in the future. “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“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.”
Until now, neither he nor COO Sheryl Sandberg have commented publicly, even as the social network has begun falling down around their ears. Facebook On Tuesday told The Daily Beast that “Mark, Sheryl and their teams are working around the clock to get all the facts and take the appropriate action moving forward, because they understand the seriousness of this issue.” When his upcoming statement was announced earlier Wednesday, Facebook said the delayed response was because “he wanted to say something meaningful rather than just rushing out.”
Part of that plan involves regaining the trust of users that have been burned by this scandal. The first step, he says is removing developer access to data for apps you haven’t used in three months, just in case you’ve forgotten to remove some old sketchy apps from your profile. Facebook will also be auditing apps on its platform that had access to large amounts of data before it changed the rules in 2014. If any others misused user data, they will be banned.
“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.”
Back in 2014 Cambridge Analytica harvested and misused Facebook data of over 50 million users to influence the 2016 US election. Other reports seem to indicate the company was also involved in the pro-Brexit campaign in the UK, as well as other shady activities over the past few years.
Facebook has long since tightened the reins on how developers can gather data on its platform, but it’s come under fire just as much as Cambridge Analytica, for having incredibly lax privacy measures in the first place. In addition, Facebook only banned the company from its platform a few days ago, four years after the unethical activity first began.