Following Facebook’s recent scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, Mark Zuckerberg has come out in defence of his social media company. In a recent Facebook post, he disclosed some of the steps they have taken in trying to address the situation.
The founder of Facebook makes it clear that the changes made to Facebook in 2014 were the biggest they could make in relation to data collection policies and the reason why this is not apparent now is because the data leaked by Cambridge Analytica was harvested before these changes were implemented.In his post, Zuckerberg gave a detailed timeline of what they had done to try prevent this breach from occurring.
He claims that in 2014 Facebook changed the way apps on the platform could access data in order to prevent apps like Kogan (the app that gave user data to Cambridge Analytica) from asking about data in relation to a person’s friend. Data could only be shared if the other friend had also enabled authorized Kogan. One of the other changes made at the time included a requirement that meant developers now had to get approval directly from Facebook before being allowed to request for sensitive data from people.
In 2015, Facebook was informed by the Guardian that Kogan had shared some user data with Cambridge Analytica. Kogan was subsequently banned from Facebook and both Cambridge Analytica and Kogan were asked to delete the data as it had been shared without users consent. Both formally certified that they deleted the data and provided these certifications but it seems Cambridge Analytica did not actually delete the data. Cambridge Analytica stands by their claim that they had deleted the data and they have also agreed to undergo a forensic audit to prove their innocence.
New security checks to be in put place going forward
Going forward Facebook will also take more steps to ensure user privacy is not breached again. An investigation will be carried out on all the apps that had ‘large amounts’ of data before restrictions limiting data access were put in place.
Apps with suspicious activity will undergo similar audits as the one Cambridge Analytica will be subjected to and if a developer does not agree to the auditing process they will be banned from the platform. Bans will also be handed out to the developers who are found misusing personal data. As these developers are banned Facebook will notify all individuals affected by those apps.
Secondly, Zuckerberg promised that going forward user data on apps will have an expiry date of sorts. Facebook will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app for 3 months. The only data that will remain accessible after these 3 months will be a user’s name, email address and profile pic. Developers will also now have to sign a contract (with Facebook, not the user) in order to get permission to ask for access to user posts and data.
Facebook will also become more upfront about apps you are using to help you comprehend which data is being shared and to whom it is being shared. In the next month they will be rolling out a tool that will feature at the top of users’ news feeds showing the apps that have been used and an easy way to deny these apps access to your data.
The data breach scandal has seen Facebook shares drop in value by a staggering 37 billion. Zuckerberg’s net worth has dropped by $7.2 billion and at the time of writing he is now worth $66.8 billion according to Forbes.com.