Facebook says that the personal data of nearly 87 million users have been inappropriately used by data firm Cambridge Analytica. The UK firm was connected to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Facebook had initially estimated that at least 50 million users were affected by the data breach. Based on this latest revelation, it seems that the number is indeed higher.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced that the company will offer users the same tools and controls required under the new European privacy laws that come into full effect next month. The laws are designed to give users more control over their data and the way in which this data is used by tech companies online. Facebook has been making significant efforts in the last few weeks to be more transparent about the data leaks. In fact, Zuckerberg was even part of a rare QA session with journalists before his expected testimony next week on Capitol Hill.
Facebook says that it will start contacting directly users who the company thinks may have been affected by the data scandal. However, the 87 million affected accounts are still an estimate. Facebook’s spokesman Andy Stone told reporters that the estimate was calculated by including all the friends of the users whose data was directly accessed by Cambridge Analytica. Despite this, it still remains unclear exactly how many Facebook accounts have been affected.
The social media giant has also released a detailed document that provides a glimpse on how the company intends to protect user data in the future. In the detailed document, Facebook is planning to tighten its search and account recovery systems. The company will also limit the type of data that can be harvested by outside software. Users will now have the right to give permissions before an app collects data beyond their address and name. Facebook is also banning the use of outside apps designed to collect data on religious or political views on its platform.
Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook hasn’t done enough to prevent abuses on its platform. The Facebook CEO argued that moving forward the company will broaden its responsibility to protect its users. The Federal Trade Commission is also investigating whether Facebook breached a user protection agreement signed in 2011. The company’s entire revenue is based on commercializing user data so it cannot take chances with this issue. The upcoming Senate hearing will offer Facebook a good opportunity to explain its case and shed light on some of the concerns raised by the public.
The social media giant is also embroiled in another scandal. The company has been accused of doing very little to stop Russian foreign agents from using its platform to influence the 2016 election. Zuckerberg has already refuted the claims terming the idea that foreign agents could have used Facebook to influence elections in the US as crazy. Nonetheless, the social media platform is already being investigated in various countries for privacy abuses but even then, the most important thing right now for the company is dealing with the public fallout after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.