FILE - In this March 15, 2013, file photo, a Facebook employee walks past a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. The San Jose Mercury News reports Saturday, March 17, 2018 that building permits compiled by Buildzoom show Facebook plans to erect the 465,000 square-foot (43,200 square-meter) building at its campus in Menlo Park, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

Breaking five days of silence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect user data in light of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm.

Zuckerberg said Wednesday that Facebook has a “responsibility” to protect its users’ data and if it fails, “we don’t deserve to serve you.”

But Zuckerberg stopped short of apologizing.

RELATED: How Facebook likes could profile voters for manipulation

And he wrote “what happened” instead of “what we did,” leaving Facebook one step removed from responsibility.

Richard Levick, chairman of the crisis-management firm Levick, gave Zuckerberg’s response a “B-” grade, in part because of how late it came.

Zuckerberg and Facebook’s No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, had been quiet since news broke Friday that Cambridge Analytica may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections. Cambridge’s clients included Donald Trump’s general-election campaign.

Facebook shares have dropped some 8 per cent, lopping about $46 billion off the company’s market value, since the revelations were first published.

Even before the scandal broke, Facebook has already taken the most important steps to prevent a recurrence, Zuckerberg said. For example, in 2014, it reduced access outside apps had to user data. However, some of the measures didn’t take effect until a year later, allowing Cambridge to access the data in the intervening months.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that there is more to do.

RELATED: Privacy watchdog to explore Facebook leak

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said it will ban developers who don’t agree to an audit. An app’s developer will no longer have access to data from people who haven’t used that app in three months. Data will also be generally limited to user names, profile photos and email, unless the developer signs a contract with Facebook and gets user approval.

In a separate post, Facebook said it will inform people whose data was misused by apps. Facebook first learned of this breach of privacy more than two years ago, but hadn’t mentioned it publicly until Friday.

The company said it was “building a way” for people to know if their data was accessed by “This Is Your Digital Life,” the psychological-profiling quiz app that researcher Aleksandr Kogan created and paid about 270,000 people to take part in. Cambridge Analytica later obtained information from the app for about 50 million Facebook users, as the app also vacuumed up data on people’s friends — including those who never downloaded the app or gave explicit consent.

Chris Wylie, a Cambridge co-founder who left in 2014, has said one of the firm’s goals was to influence people’s perceptions by injecting content, some misleading or false, all around them. It’s not clear whether Facebook would be able to tell users whether they had seen such content.

Cambridge has shifted the blame to Kogan, which the firm described as a contractor. Kogan described himself as a scapegoat.

RELATED: Liberals tried pilot project with Facebook data whistleblower in 2016

Kogan, a psychology researcher at Cambridge University, told the BBC that both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have tried to place the blame on him, even though the firm ensured him that everything he did was legal.

“One of the great mistakes I did here was I just didn’t ask enough questions,” he said. “I had never done a commercial project. I didn’t really have any reason to doubt their sincerity. That’s certainly something I strongly regret now.”

He said the firm paid some $800,000 for the work, but it went to participants in the survey.

“My motivation was to get a dataset I could do research on,” he said. “I have never profited from this in any way personally.”

Authorities in Britain and the United States are investigating.

David Carroll, a professor at Parsons School of Design in New York who sued Cambridge Analytica in the U.K., said he was not satisfied with Zuckerberg’s response, but acknowledged that “this is just the beginning.”

He said it was “insane” that Facebook had yet to take legal action against Cambridge parent SCL Group over the inappropriate data use. Carroll himself sued Cambridge Friday to recover data on him that the firm had obtained.

Sandy Parakilas, who worked in data protection for Facebook in 2011 and 2012, told a U.K. parliamentary committee Wednesday that the company was vigilant about its network security but lax when it came to protecting users’ data.

He said personal data including email addresses and in some cases private messages was allowed to leave Facebook servers with no real controls on how the data was used after that.

“The real challenge here is that Facebook was allowing developers to access the data of people who hadn’t explicitly authorized that,” he said, adding that the company had “lost sight” of what developers did with the data.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Six Fort St. James students awarded scholarships for post-secondary education

Indigenous students awarded to further their studies

Coastal GasLink gets interim injunction against Unist’ot’en

The LNG pipeline company can start work Monday with enforcement approved by court.

Editorial: Go out and play

How much is too much screen time?

Fort St. James businesses get into the Christmas spirit with decorating contest

Northland Automotive Ltd. won first place in Fort St. James Chamber of… Continue reading

Some types of cauliflower, lettuce recalled over E. coli fears

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced recall because of possible contamination.

CIBC shrinks event after Whistler mayor irks oil producers

After Whistler sent a letter to a Calgary-based oilsands giant, several energy firms said they would back out of the CIBC event.

Couple caught up in B.C. Legislature bomb plot to learn their fate

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested as part of an undercover RCMP sting on Canada Day 2013

Trial rights of accused spy for China at risk, lawyer tells Supreme Court

The lawyer for a man accused of trying to spy for China says federal foot-dragging over secrecy is endangering his client’s right to timely justice.

‘Recall fatigue’: Canadians may avoid certain foods over holidays

In the winter, Canada’s supply of fresh fruit and vegetables tends to come from very specific areas.

Ryan Reynolds to narrate movie about B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

Vancouver-born actor known for Deadpool movies will voice film to be released Feb. 15, 2019

Airline passengers could get up to $2,400 for delays, damaged bags: Canadian agency

Canadian Transportation Agency is releasing draft regulations for public feedback

Top of mind: ‘Justice’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year

Merriam-Webster has chosen “justice” as its 2018 word of the year, driven by the churning news cycle and President Trump’s Twitter feed.

‘Spider-Verse’ swings to the top; ‘Mortal Engines’ tanks

“Spider-Verse” has been very well-received among critics, and audiences in exit surveys gave it a rare A+ CinemaScore.

Most Read