Science & Tech

Zuckerberg Apologizes for Data Breach, Promises Facebook Will Investigate Sketchy Apps

Mark Zuckerberg gestures while addressing the audience during a meeting of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) CEO Summit in Lima, Peru, November 19, 2016. (Mariana Bazo/Reuters)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized to the 50 million people whose data was breached by data firm Cambridge Analytica.

“This was a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened,” Zuckerberg told CNN Wednesday night. “We have a basic responsibility to protect people’s data, and if we can’t do that then we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.”

The 33-year-old billionaire promised he has a plan to undo any damage caused by such breaches in the past, and to make sure the same thing never happens again in the future. Facebook is building a tool so people can know if they are one of the 50 million affected by the breach, he announced, and the platform will do a better job in the future letting users know about sketchy apps, allowing developers less access to people’s personal information, and policing “rogue apps.”

In 2015, when journalists from the Guardian told them app developer Aleksandr Kogan had shared users’ information with political data firm Cambridge Analytica, Facebook immediately banned the app through which the data had been obtained, Zuckerberg said. Facebook also asked the firm for a formal certification that it had deleted all the user data.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m used to when people legally certify that they’re going to do something that they do it,” Zuckerberg said, smiling, before going on to admit that his company had put too much trust in developers.

After the 2016 presidential election, Facebook also took heat for failing to detect Russian bots and control fake news.

“In 2016 we were not as on top of a number of issues as we should have [been], whether it was Russian interference or fake news.” Zuckerberg said, but added his company has deployed AI tools that have been able to detect Russian bots and fake accounts since.

The social-media giant’s stock has been in free fall since the revelations about the breach emerged earlier this week, dropping 10 percent since Monday. Lawmakers have also called for Zuckerberg to testify before Congress, which he told CNN he would be “happy” to do.

 

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