The way Facebook misused personal information of people is far worse than what was thought initially. The Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer revealed that FB shared data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica. He shared the new number in a blog post which outlined nine changes that the firm has decided to make after the data scandal has unfolded. According to the CTO, most of the users which were affected were in the USA. In the post, Facebook also showed the troubling ease with which ‘malicious actors’ can ‘scrape’ the public information from the profile of most users.
Mark Zuckerberg has also addressed the growing scandal in a media call and admitted that the firm did not do enough to protect the user data or to prevent the spread of disinformation. He said that he had made a huge mistake in failing to take a broad enough view of what facebook’s responsibility was. He said, “It’s my mistake.” While referring to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he said that it was not enough to believe the app developers when they said they will follow the rules. He says Facebook has to ensure that they do follow the rules. He said, “Life is learning from mistakes. At the end of the day, this is my responsibility. I started this place, I run it, I’m responsible. We know now we didn’t do enough to focus on preventing abuse and thinking through how people use these tools to do harm.”
He further said, “It’s not enough to give people a voice, we have to make sure that people are not using that voice to spread disinformation.” Facebook is trying to deal with the unfolding scandal while the details that are emerging are making the situation more worrisome. It also indicates an issue which was called a ‘breach of trust’ by Zuckerberg himself. Schroepfer said, “In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the US — may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.” Cambridge Analytica disputed Facebook’s estimate of affected users. They said that it received no more than 30 million records from a researcher which was hired to collect data about people on Facebook.
The site was previously allowing users to enter someone’s phone number to search the person. While it was useful to find friends, it was also regularly abused. So Facebook is now removing the tool entirely. Schroepfer said, “Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way. So we have now disabled this feature. We’re also making changes to account recovery to reduce the risk of scraping as well.” The changes also include new guidelines for the opt-in feature which allows Facebook to access text and call history from the Android users. Schroepfer said, “We’ve reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages — and will delete all logs older than one year. In the future, the client will only upload to our servers the information needed to offer this feature — not broader data such as the time of calls.”
For groups, Schroepfer said, “We’re also removing personal information, such as names and profile photos, attached to posts or comments that approved apps can access.” The firm said that it will not ask for more personal details like religious or political views, entertainment activity, relationship status, or news reading. The changes follow several others which have rolled out in the last few weeks. Schroepfer wrote, “Overall, we believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences. We know we have more work to do — and we’ll keep you updated as we make more changes.”