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Thursday, 22 March 2018 09:05

Zuckerberg addresses 'data breach' but offers no apology Featured

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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has issued a long statement in response to the recent claims about data exfiltration from the platform to research firm Cambridge Analytica, promising to "work through this and build a better service over the long term".

But he did not offer an apology for the data leak that has resulted in private information of at least 50 million Facebook users being passed to a third party.

Zuckerberg also did not address claims made by his former platform operations manager Sandy Parakilas that data harvesting from Facebook was a regular occurrence, and not a one-off as in the Cambridge Analytica case.

And he made no mention of claims by Carol Davidsen, director of integration and media analytics for the 2012 Obama campaign, that Facebook had allowed the campaign to "suck out the whole social graph" for use in targeting voters.

"They came to office in the days following election recruiting and were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side," Davidsen said in a tweet, one of a thread she wrote to explain how the campaign had obtained and used the data.

Zuckerberg detailed what he said was the timeline that led to the current situation and said that many lax procedures that had led to it had already been rectified.

In recent days, Facebook has had to battle claims that data breaches led to information about 50 million of its users being siphoned off by Cambridge Analytica, a voter-profiling company that worked on Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Facebook has contested this, saying that the data exfiltration was due to a feature in an app. The allegations about Cambridge Analytica were made by a former employee, Christopher Wylie, and reported by London's The Observer and The New York Times over the weekend.

The data was collected in 2014 by Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher, using an app that requested people to take a personality test for academic research.

Zuckerberg's statement, posted on his Facebook page, said: "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"

The Facebook founder will make a rare appearance on TV, with news reports saying that he had agreed to appear on CNN on Wednesday night US time.

He added in the statement: "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."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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