Facebook faltering, slow Zuckerberg reaction may be futile

While a lot of the recent news has focussed on a UK based company, Cambridge Analytica, and it’s involvement in many elections around the world, in particular the UK Brexit vote and the 2016 US presidential election, the company at the core of all of this, the enabler of all of this, has been Facebook.

After several days silence in the face of a growing storm Facebook founder and head Mark Zuckerberg emerged with an attempt at damage control yesterday. He made tis statement )on Facebook of course):

I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we’ve already taken and our next steps to address this important issue.

We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. 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.

Here’s a timeline of the events:

In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social. Your calendar should be able to show your friends’ birthdays, your maps should show where your friends live, and your address book should show their pictures. To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them.

In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.

In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Kogan’s could no longer ask for data about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from us before they could request any sensitive data from people. These actions would prevent any app like Kogan’s from being able to access so much data today.

In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent, so we immediately banned Kogan’s app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. They provided these certifications.

Last week, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified. We immediately banned them from using any of our services. Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to confirm this. We’re also working with regulators as they investigate what happened.

This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. 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.

In this case, we already took the most important steps a few years ago in 2014 to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information in this way. But there’s more we need to do and I’ll outline those steps here:

First, we will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.

Second, we will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo, and email address. We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data. And we’ll have more changes to share in the next few days.

Third, we want to make sure you understand which apps you’ve allowed to access your data. In the next month, we will show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you’ve used and an easy way to revoke those apps’ permissions to your data. We already have a tool to do this in your privacy settings, and now we will put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it.

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.

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. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.

It was noted that he made excjses but didn’t apologise in that statement, but he went on to say sorry in an interview.

CNN: Mark Zuckerberg has regrets: ‘I’m really sorry that this happened’

“I’m really sorry that this happened,” the Facebook (FB) CEO told CNN’s Laurie Segall in an exclusive TV interview on Wednesday.

“I started this when I was so young and inexperienced,” the 33-year-old Zuckerberg said. “I made technical errors and business errors. I hired the wrong people. I trusted the wrong people,” he said.

“I’ve probably launched more products that have failed than most people will in their lifetime.”

But ultimately, he said, he’s learned from his missteps.

“That’s the commitment that I try to have inside our company, and for our community.”

But that’s a piss poor apology. He has said he is sorry it has happened, but then went on to make excuses. His assurances he can put things right are very late and quite lame.

Also on the CNN interview: Mark Zuckerberg tells CNN he is ‘happy to’ testify before Congress

Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the data debacle that has upended Facebook and opened the door to testifying before Congress.

“The short answer is I’m happy to if it’s the right thing to do,” the Facebook (FB) CEO told CNN’s Laurie Segall in an exclusive TV interview on “Anderson Cooper 360.”

“What we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge,” Zuckerberg said. “If that’s me, then I am happy to go.”

If Congress subpoenas him to appear it doesn’t matter how happy Zuckerberg is, he is compelled to appear, it won’t be his choice.

He seems a long way from properly accepting responsibility for the shoddy security of billions of people’s privacy.

And Zuckerberg and Facebook may have put themselves into a hopeless situation.

Blomberg: Mark Zuckerberg Has No Way Out of Facebook’s Quagmire

There’s simply no way to fix the fake news and data abuse problems without destroying the social network’s business model.

I think I understand why Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg hasn’tpublicly responded to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. He’s stuck in a catch-22. Any fix for Facebook’s previous big problem — fake news — would make the current big problem with data harvesting worse.

Zuckerberg has obviously responded since this was written, but the same problem persists.

As a media company and one of Americans’ top sources of information, Facebook’s de facto anonymity and general lack of responsibility for user-generated content make it easy for propagandists to exploit. Making matters worse, it isn’t willing to impose tighter identification rules for fear of losing too many users, and it doesn’t want to be held responsible in any way for content, preferring to present itself as a neutral platform. So Zuckerberg has been trying to fix the problem by showing people more material from friends and family and by prioritizing “trusted publishers” and local news sources over purveyors of fake news.

Facebook continues to struggle on the sharemarket today (Thursday US time) after an abrupt fall early this week. And the worst may be ahead for Facebook.

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12 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  March 23, 2018

    I make very little use of Facebook, mainly just to occasionally keep up with family events, because I find the whole platform has become a bloody monstrosity. I never access anything through the Facebook app but Facebook.

    • Traveller

       /  March 23, 2018

      In recent months I’ve scaled back even visiting. I’m increasingly using it for travel only.

      Whatsapp and Instagram are both theirs also remember.

  2. Blazer

     /  March 23, 2018

    Lindsey Perigo…’faeces book’.

  3. David

     /  March 23, 2018

    “He seems a long way from properly accepting responsibility for the shoddy security of billions of people’s privacy.”

    For Facebook to actually do this in a serious way, and the way the media seems to be pushing, then Facebook would simply shut down. If people want privacy, they can simply not share all their shit with the rest of the world.

  4. So some-one a little brighter than the Facebook crew wrote a program to use the information that Facebook has on its users.
    Why is Facebook retaining this information?
    For their own use?
    To sell to others?
    I prefer GAB. Fewer restrictions more crazies but that’s the way it should be

  5. Corky

     /  March 23, 2018

    This Mark Zuckerberg’s dude is full of shit. I read a quote last year from him the said something like the following: ‘privacy is dead, get used to it.’ It’s also rumoured he has ties to the American intelligence community. Given recent events this may be true

    According to the PR, Facebook has had an ‘AWAKENING.’ Lol.

  6. NOEL

     /  March 23, 2018

    This guy has some good points. https://www.pacbiztimes.com/2018/03/22/dubroff-to-survive-facebook-should-adopt-a-users-bill-of-rights/
    I don’t have a Facebook account but I may consider it is his “it’s yours and will protected as such” was introduced.

  7. Noel

     /  March 23, 2018

    Interesting summary on where all that Facebook info goes.

    • 2Tru

       /  March 23, 2018

      Hell, this is mind blowing! All these buildings, computer servers and power consumption. For what? Social media trivia. Strange that we could live quite happily without it and now for many people it’s an obsession. Reminiscent of StarNet from the Terminator films!

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 23, 2018

        My late husband, who was involved in politics, found it very a useful tool. I don’t use it much.I did announce his death on it when someone suggested this as a good way to tell people who would not otherwise have known.

        The trivial use made of by many people (from what I gather) is incredible in its banality.