After a five day wait, Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has finally broken his silence on the crisis involving data firm Cambridge Analytica reportedly accessing information of more than 50 million Facebook users, without their consent.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you," wrote Zuckerberg in a lengthy Facebook post, before adding, “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."

In what was a coordinated post timed with Zuckerberg’s post, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “As he said, we know that this was a major violation of people’s trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it. We have a responsibility to protect your data - and if we can’t, then we don’t deserve to serve you."

It is a bit perplexing that in lengthy statements, neither Zuckerberg nor Sandberg came out and clearly apologised, and instead used the terms “mistakes, responsibility, fix and build" to get the message across. However, later in the day, Zuckerberg said, “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry this happened," in an interview on television network CNN. He also expressed regret for not investigating further immediately, when the Cambridge Analytica’s data handling discrepancies had first been revealed in 2015 itself. “I think this was clearly a mistake in retrospect. We need to make sure we don’t make that mistake ever again," he said on CNN.

The crisis is about how Cambridge Analytica harvested a trove of data of Facebook users, from the app created by University of Cambridge researcher, Aleksandr Kogan. As it emerged, Cambridge Analytica may have kept that large chunk of data of more than 50 million Facebook users, despite promises to Facebook that all of the data they received from the researcher had been deleted in 2015. The app, called “thisisyourdigitallife", was downloaded by around 300,000 Facebook users after it was released in 2013.

In what was a coordinated post timed with Zuckerberg’s post, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “As he said, we know that this was a major violation of people’s trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it. We have a responsibility to protect your data - and if we can’t, then we don’t deserve to serve you."

Zuckerberg also highlighted the three major steps that the social media network would take, to address the causes of the Cambridge Analytica crisis, and ensure a repeat doesn’t happen.

First, Facebook will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before the social network changed the platform policies in 2014, to the access to data that third party apps got. Facebook will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. “If we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps," writes Zuckerberg.

Secondly, Zuckerberg suggests Facebook will further restrict the data access that third party app developers get, to prevent abuse of information. One of the steps is that Facebook will automatically revoke developers’ access to your data, if you haven’t used their app for 3 months or more. The next time you sign in to a third party app using your Facebook credentials, the social network will only allow the app to get access to your name, profile photo, and email address. If the app wants to access anything more, such as the ability to view your posts, a new process will be in place. “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," says Zuckerberg.

Finally, Facebook will also be adding a tool that will now give users an easier to understand summary of which apps have access to your Facebook data, allowing users to quickly revoke permissions to apps they don’t use anymore or don’t want to give access to. This tool will show up at the top of the News Feed. Incidentally, this tool has been available on Facebook for quite some time now, but it was buried amid many other options in the Settings menu, so much so that many users probably didn’t even know it existed.

The latest incident has led to a massive reaction from users as well as parts of the tech fraternity, with doubts over how Facebook could let a third-party access their own user data without taking explicit consent. Facebook had earlier confirmed that the data was initially collected by a professor for academic purposes in line with its rules. The information was later transferred to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook’s policies. Zuckerberg outlined the timeline of incidents

Many are angry at why Facebook didn’t react sooner, or do more, to ensure that user data was safe. There is now a #deletefacebook campaign trending on social media, something backed by the WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, whom as it turns out, Facebook made a billionaire with the WhatsApp acquisition. This isn’t the first time Facebook has been facing the wrath of users. As recently as 2014, Facebook faced a backlash after it was revealed that the social network was running secret psychological experiments on users, and attempting to tweak the content that they see on their News Feeds and alter their reactions.

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