In its first substantive response to the data breach fiasco, Facebook this week said research firm Cambridge Analytica might have accessed details of a maximum of 87 million Facebook users without their consent, and hinted that the number could be lesser. According to Facebook, an academic who procured the user information, as per the company’s policy, later illegally passed it on to commercial entities including Cambridge Analytica.
The past few months were the most challenging time for Facebook (FB), and things took a nasty turn after data breach allegations involving Cambridge Analytica popped up. Since mid-March, when the controversy surrounding violation of user privacy gathered momentum, the company’s stock lost more than 13%.
Meanwhile, the social media giant is in the process of scrutinizing the extent of the exposure. The findings will be shared with account holders early next week, enabling them to check on the applications they use on the platform and information shared on them.
“This is going to be a never-ending battle,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an emotional response to the issue, and admitted to being lax in taking precautions against data misuse. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of what our responsibility is and that was a huge mistake,” he said.
In the candid confession made during one of the many press meets Zuckerberg attended after breaking his initial silence on the matter, there was an underlying tone of being betrayed by some business partners. And, Facebook paid a huge price for its failure to foresee things and for not having a fool-proof system in place.
FB said an academic accessed user information and later passed it on to third parties, flouting norms
Next week, a committee headed by the Congress will quiz Zuckerberg on the modality followed by his company for maintaining information provided by users. Most importantly, Zuckerberg will be asked to give his views on Facebook’s role in the democracy. The man behind the most powerful networking firm is being summoned following a widespread demand for him to testify.
The corrective measures mooted by the company to safeguard user data include restrictions on apps that access personal information at various levels, such as those linked to groups and events. Also, apps will be blocked from accessing details that are too personal, like religious/political views and relationship status.
Meanwhile, challenging Facebook’s revelation about the number of data breach victims, Cambridge Analytics claimed it had accessed information about nearly 30 million users, by adhering to Facebook’s terms and conditions.