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'We Will Fix the Data Breach" - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged Wednesday the social media company erred and vowed to protect users' data after it was revealed Cambridge Analytica, a British data firm, improperly harvested and misused data from 50 million Facebook profiles.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there's more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”

Zuckerberg’s statement comes after the New York Times, the Observer of London, and London’s Channel 4 News revealed in a report Saturday that Cambridge Analytica kept data it gleaned from the profiles of millions of Facebook users and used the information to influence voters during the 2016 election.

According to a timeline of events laid out by Zuckerberg, the saga first began in 2007 after Facebook launched the Facebook Platform, which allowed people to log into apps and share data from their profiles.

In 2013, Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher at Cambridge University, created a personal quiz app that was installed by roughly 300,000 people. Those users shared their data and data from their friends, which allowed Kogan to access “tens of millions of their friends’ data.”

One year later, Facebook changed the platform to limit the data that apps could access, which meant apps like the one developed by Kogan couldn’t ask for data about a user’s friends unless they received authorization from that friend.

In 2015, reporters at The Guardian told Facebook that Kogan shared the data he gleaned from his app with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook then banned Kogan’s app from the platform and told both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to certify they deleted the data improperly harvested.

Zuckerberg said the two parties provided the certifications, but acknowledged the revelations Saturday indicated Cambridge Analytica didn’t delete the data as they claimed.

“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook,” he said. 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. We need to fix that.”

Facebook has agreed to cooperate with a forensic audit to confirm whether Cambridge Analytica has deleted the data, and Zuckerberg said the company is working with regulators investigating the breach.

The Facebook CEO said the company took steps in 2014 “to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information in this way,” but said Facebook will go further.

The company will investigate the apps that had access to significant amounts of data before Facebook implemented changes in 2014, and conduct an audit of apps with suspicious activity. Developers that do not agree to the audit will be banned from Facebook, as will those found to have misused personal information.

Facebook also vowed to limit the access developers have to data and restrict the data users give to an app when they sign in.

Developers that want to ask users for access to their posts or other private information will be required to obtain approval and sign a contract.

Lastly, Zuckerberg said Facebook will show users a tool that will appear at the top of the News Feed that shows the apps being used.

“Beyond the steps we had already taken in 2014, I believe these are the next steps we must take to continue to secure our platform,” he said. “I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform. I'm serious about doing what it takes to protect our community.

“While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past," Zuckerberg said. "We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.”

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