Mark Zuckerberg has finally broken five days of silence on misused data from more than 50 million Facebook accounts, a controversy that has consumed Facebook over the past week.
The social network’s chief executive said the company is taking actions to make sure the Cambridge Analytica data exploit doesn’t happen again. For starters, Zuckerberg said Facebook will “investigate” all apps that have access to large amounts of data, and restrict developers’ data access even further.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page. “I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The statement has been Zuckerberg’s first public comments since the controversy began to unfold late last Friday. Facebook disclosed that information from millions of user accounts were used without people’s permission by Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy hired by the Trump presidential campaign.
The data was originally collected by a Cambridge professor named Aleksandr Kogan for a personally quiz app. He collected the data legitimately, but then violated Facebook’s terms by passing the information to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook found out about the infraction in 2015, but didn’t inform the public. Instead, Facebook demanded all the parties involved to destroy the information. But now there are allegations not all the data was deleted.
“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook,” Zuckerberg 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.”
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, echoed Zuckerberg’s comments in a separate post. “We know that this was a major violation of peoples’ trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it.”
Facebook has come under fire from lawmakers calling for Zuckerberg to answer for Facebook’s actions. Prominent senators, including Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner, have called for the CEO to testify before Congress. The US Federal Trade Commission is reportedly launching a probe into Facebook. The European Union has also launched an investigation.
But as criticism continued to mount, Zuckerberg and Sandberg remained quiet. The lack of response from Facebook’s leadership only intensified the backlash.
As the days piled up without a response from Zuckerberg, the hashtag #WheresZuck began to circulate on Twitter. At an internal question and answer session at Facebook headquarters on Tuesday,as the company addressed its employees about the controversy for the first time. Instead, the session was led by Facebook attorney Paul Grewal.
Here’s the complete text of Zuckerberg’s post: