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Mark Zuckerberg plans to add new privacy tools to Facebook amid data scandal


Embroiled over five days of Cambridge Analytica scandal and #DeleteFacebook chaos, Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the blunder on his Facebook profile on March 21. The world’s youngest billionaire agreed he could have come out sooner, instead, he chose to scan the situation exhaustively and provide accurate information.

Zuckerberg took complete responsibility for anything and everything that happened on the platform. He termed the Cambridge Analytica’s illicit use of data as a ‘breach of trust between Facebook and the people who shared their data with the platform’ followed by a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook. It is Facebook’s responsibility to protect the community data and if it is unable to do so, it must vanish.

Cambridge Analytica Scandal Timeline

To begin with, the Facebook founder summarized the Cambridge Analytica incident step by step. Starting in 2013, Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University developed a personality quiz app and got access to data of millions of users, complying with the social media site policies. Following year, Facebook made a few changes in data access policies to restrict abusive apps like Kogan’s. Here, no app could access the information of other users until and unless the other user had the access to the authorized app. In 2015, a few journalists notified Facebook about the misuse of Kogan’s data by Cambridge Analytica, a British research firm which is now at the center of the data scandal. Facebook immediately demanded the firm to delete all information. Cambridge Analytica provided certification about eliminating data from its system. The incident reappeared the previous week when The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 informed that the British research firm still has access to few data. The firm was banned from using Facebook services right away and a forensic audit on the same is in the pipeline.

Mark Zuckerberg Action Plan

Mark Zuckerberg Post

Mark Zuckerberg posts an action plan in his note on Cambridge Analytica scandal

Learning from the blazing past, Mark Zuckerberg outlined the approach that Facebook will take ahead to protect information and fix the system. It includes a thorough audit of all the apps devised pre-2014 which had access to a larger database. The developers who would not co-operate with the audit will be banned. Moreover, if any app is found guilty of suspicious activity, it would be banned along with notifying the affected users. Facebook will approach 50 million users affected by Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Secondly, a dramatic restriction on the access to data will be put. Though this step was already adopted in 2014, the system still has loopholes. Facebook will also remove the app developer’s access to user’s profile if the user has not used the specific app for three months. This is in a light that over a time users may have signed in the app and then forgotten about it.

Fortifying the procedure, app developers will now have to fill a contract instead of only accepting the terms of services. Especially if they want access to sensitive data like people’s gender identity or religious orientation, Facebook looks for a transparent relationship with the app developers.

On the peak of everything, each user must know about the apps he/she has chosen to give access to. Though this option is available under the privacy settings, by the next month, Facebook is going to place this option’s visibility on the user’s home page at the top of News Feed. The tool will display the apps that the user has given access to and can easily revoke the permission.

The action plan seems pretty simple to understand and execute. This reflects it was possible for Facebook to strengthen the platform earlier but it chose otherwise. Some lessons are learned harder way!

The social networking site is engulfed in multiple assignments of tightening security, notifying affected users and thorough investigation of apps. It needs to align its security efforts for building a stronger community which survives on trust and not on constitutional regulations. And to begin with everything, Facebook needs a bigger team of experts.

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