Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg vowed Wednesday to “step up” to fix problems surrounding data privacy, as it fights a snowballing scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of its users. Zuckerberg specifically mentioned India’s forthcoming elections, when replying to a question on how the social media giant would curb the influence of external elements in the election processes of various countries.
“We have a responsibility to do this, not only for the 2018 midterms in the US, which are going to be a huge deal this year and that’s just a huge focus for us, but there’s a big election in India this year, there’s a big election in Brazil, there are big elections around the world, and you can bet that we are really committed to doing everything that we need to make sure that the integrity of those elections on Facebook is secured,” he said in an interview with CNN.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg had said earlier, in his first public comments on the harvesting of Facebook user data by a British firm linked to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Writing on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg announced new steps to rein in the leakage of data to outside developers and third-party apps, while giving users more control over their information through a special toolbar.
“We know that this was a major violation of people’s trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it,” Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a post echoing Zuckerberg’s comments.
Zuckerberg said measures had been in place since 2014 to prevent the sort of abuse revealed over the weekend.
The scandal erupted when a whistleblower revealed that British data consultant Cambridge Analytica (CA) had created psychological profiles on 50 million Facebook users via a personality prediction app, created by a researcher named Aleksandr Kogan.
The app was downloaded by 270,000 people, but also scooped up their friends’ data without consent — as was possible under Facebook’s rules at the time.
“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it.”