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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday made his first public comments in response to the revelation that data firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed the private information of more than 50 million Facebook users without their permission.
Following days of calls for him to break his silence, the executive wrote a lengthy message to users via his Facebook page in which he acknowledged that the tech platform “made mistakes” in its handling of Cambridge Analytica. “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he wrote.
COO Sheryl Sandberg also spoke out for the first time on Wednesday, telling users, “As [Mark] said, we know that this was a major violation of peoples’ trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it.”
Over the last week, Facebook has faced a backlash over the role it played in allowing Cambridge Analytica, a U.K. company with ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, to gather information about its users and use it to sway voters. Following reports by The New York Times and The Observer of London, members of Congress have pressed Zuckerberg to testify about the incident.
A campaign to convince Facebook users to delete the app has also picked up steam, including garnering the support of one of the founders of WhatsApp, a company that sold to Facebook for $19 billion.
In his Wednesday post, Zuckerberg laid out the timeline of Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, noting that the company in 2014 limited the data that apps (like the one that supplied information to CA) could access. He also outlined new steps that Facebook will take to further prevent personal data from being used without people’s permission.
The first step that Zuckerberg said Facebook will take is to investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of data before the company implemented its new data policies in 2014. “We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit,” he wrote, adding that any app found to have misused personal information will be banned from the platform.
Second, Facebook will further restrict app developers’ access to data by blocking access to a person’s data if they haven’t used the app in the last three months and requiring developers to get signed approval to ask a person for access to additional data.
“Beyond the steps we had already taken in 2014, I believe these are the next steps we must take to continue to secure our platform,” Zuckerberg said. “I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community.”
Facebook shares have dropped more than 8 percent since the March 17 article by the New York Times exposed the data breach.
Read Zuckerberg’s full statement below.
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