Mark Zuckerberg has finally apologised following allegations that Cambridge Analytica harvested and exploited data from 50 million Facebook users, calling the incident a “major breach of trust”.
In his first interview since the scandal broke, the Facebook founder told CNN he was “really sorry”.
“This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry this happened,” the 33-year-old said.
“It’s a responsibility to protect people’s data and if we can’t do that then we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.”
When asked whether he would testify in front of Congress and law-makers in the UK, Zuckerberg replied: “I’m happy to do it if it’s the right thing to do.”
His comments follow an earlier statement on Facebook to users in which the social media pioneer promised to audit thousands of apps as part of a crackdown.
Zuckerberg wrote: “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.”
Zuckerberg set out three steps Facebook would take to fix the situation:
- To investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before a 2014 change that restricted access to data and ban any app that doesn’t agree to a “thorough audit”. “We find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps,” Zuckerberg said.
- To restrict developers’ data access, such as removing access to data of people who’ve not used an app for three months. “We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in ― to only your name, profile photo, and email address,” Zuckerberg said.
- Introduce a tool for every user to assess the apps they’ve used and offer an easy way to revoke their permission. This tool exists but will be put in a more prominent place on peoples’ news feeds, Facebook said.
In a separate post, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg went a step further, stating she “deeply regrets” how Facebook handled Cambridge Analytica ― but again stopped short of an actual apology.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data,” she wrote. “And if we can’t, then we don’t deserve to serve you.”
Cambridge Analytica is accused of secretly harvesting up to 50 million Facebook users’ personal data to better identify individuals who could be targeted and influenced by specific political ad campaigns.
The firm, which boasts it has influenced 200 political campaigns worldwide, was hired by Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but has denied that data acquired through Facebook was used to assist his efforts to win the election.
Lawmakers in the US and UK had demanded that Zuckerberg explained how Cambridge Analytica secretly used the data.