Zuckerberg Lists Plans to Improve Protection of User Data

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As a reaction to the firestorm over the use of the profiles of 50 million Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) members by Cambridge Analytica, founder, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a number of ways the world’s largest social network will never allow a repeat of similar incidents.

Among his comments:

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.

This part of his reaction to the incident may ring hollow to people who are worried that data about them was used at all and might be again in the future.

He went on, after discussing a timeline of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to write that Facebook already had safeguards in place, but it had done a poor job enforcing them. He added:

 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.

This will not stop investigations by U.S. and U.K. authorities about how the incident happened, and whether Facebook and other social networks need to be regulated. It also may be cold comfort to anxious Facebook members.

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