Mark Zuckerberg is sorry that your data has been stolen and he will try to secure them
In a full page of newspaper advertising, Zuckerberg apologizes for the Cambridge Analytica leak.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 25, 2018
We have the responsibility to protect your information. If we can not do it, we do not deserve it.
You’ve probably heard about a quiz app made by a university researcher who leaked the data of millions of people in 2014. It was a lack of trust you give us and I’m sorry we did not done anymore at that time. Today, we are taking steps to make sure this does not happen again.
We have already prevented apps like this one from collecting so much information. We are now limiting the data that applications retrieve when you sign in with Facebook.
We investigate every app that has access to a lot of information before we fix it. We think there are others. And when we find them, we will ban them and warn all those who have been affected.
In the end, we will remind you which apps you have given access to your information so that you can delete those you no longer want.
Thank you for believing in this community. I promise to do better for you.
Facebook’s leadership has reason to be nervous. Politicians in the US and UK are asking for auditions to determine how the company failed to respond to this leak before it became public. The fallout – if Congress acts and asks Facebook to be responsible for their blunder with the data of 50 million people – could be huge with new laws asking Facebook to give users the option of making their data available rather than by default.
Individual Facebook users also make their data public to show the extent of information Facebook has access to. They are numerous to report that the company has their contacts and phone calls: not those made via Facebook but those registered directly on their phones. Sara Ashley O’Brien uploaded 14 years of her data and wrote about it for CNN
“There was the phone number of my grandmother who never had a Facebook account or e-mail address.It preserved the conversations I had with an ex, someone with whom I had broken all my digital links. It even reminded me of the times when I was “poké”, a feature that I had completely forgotten.
I also learned that Kate Spade New York and MetLife have me on their lists as an advertiser.
I just downloaded my Facebook data, and yes, like others, they do have all the mobile numbers in my address book, including some sensitive ones, so now what, as I lean on this open stable door watching the horse disappear over the hill?
— Jane Merrick (@janemerrick23) March 25, 2018
At first glance, it may seem trivial: probably creepy but not something that will make people go to sharpen their forks. But the Cambridge Analytica Debacle is just one example of how companies can manipulate and abuse this information. And it’s not difficult to find others.
In 2016, ProPublica discovered that Facebook’s algorithms allowed advertisers to exclude users based on their race when it comes to posting real estate ads and as recently as late last year, Facebook nothing had changed. Roger McNamee, one of Facebook’s first investors recently wrote that Facebook is essentially an “unsupervised platform” and an ideal target for abuse.
He gives the example of a firm that collected data on users interested in Black Lives Matter and sells this data to the police; Facebook did nothing until the info was revealed and then hit the firm’s fingers.
McNamee also talks about the proliferation of political ads that led to the Brexit vote and how Facebook’s algorithms helped Leave’s campaigners build balloons and flood them with ads. Because voters with the greatest chance of voting for Brexit had low incomes, it was less costly to target them.
None of this is like the business of a reputable company. And as Zuckerberg himself said, if we can not trust the processing of user data by Facebook, then they do not deserve to have them.