Monday 17 December 2018

Facebook boss admits 'mistakes'

Mark Zuckerberg promises to limit advertiser access to personal data

Mark Zuckerberg: the Facebook founder has admitted he made mistakes in handling personal information. Photo: REUTERS
Mark Zuckerberg: the Facebook founder has admitted he made mistakes in handling personal information. Photo: REUTERS
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has admitted his company made "mistakes" over its handling of people's personal information and has promised sweeping reforms to what kind of details companies and political parties will be allowed to access.

"We have a responsibility to protect your data and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you," said Mr Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. "But we also made mistakes, there's more to do, and we need to step up and do it."

The 33-year-old billionaire pledged to immediately cut down the amount of personal information that apps automatically get access to, restricting it to a user's name, photo and email address.

He also said that Facebook will start telling people if their personal data had been misused or swiped without their consent by an app or commercial services.

"If we remove an app for misusing data, we will tell everyone who used it," he said.

One of the biggest criticisms the company faced in recent days is that it did not inform users whose personal information was duplicitously gained through a fake personality test, before being sold on to the political firm Cambridge Analytica to be used in the 2016 election campaign of Donald Trump.

Another issue emerging from the fiasco over Cambridge Analytica is that many people were unaware of how much personal data apps have about them.

Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook is to incorporate a new clickable symbol at the top of everyone's page which will link to apps and the personal information they have access to.

"We already have a tool to do this in your privacy settings, but now we will put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it," he said.

Mr Zuckerberg also said Facebook is to embark on an "audit" of all apps that accessed large amounts of personal information before 2014, the year the company tightened its rules.

However, he did not say whether there will be any new restrictions on how our personal details can be used, such as for political purposes.

Mr Zuckerberg's admission comes as multiple regulators, including the Irish data watchdog Helen Dixon, warned that Facebook needed to explain how it was taking care of people's personal information.

Recent revelations have cast a spotlight on how much private information companies and other organisations can get their hands on when people click on their app or ad.

Mr Zuckerberg's personal fortune has fallen some €5bn as his company's share price plummeted 10pc this week because of the scandal.

Irish Independent

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