Monday 23 April 2018

Facebook to probe 'tens of thousands of apps' in data breach hunt - Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. Photo: REUTERS
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. Photo: REUTERS

Stephen Jones

Facebook will investigate "tens of thousands" of apps to discover if any other companies have accessed data in a similar way to Cambridge Analytica (CA), Mark Zuckerberg has told US politicians.

The social network says it is in the process of letting up to 87 million users know that their information may have been accessed by CA, and in a packed room on Capitol Hill, Mr Zuckerberg repeated his admission that the company "didn't do enough" to stop its tools "being used for harm".

He also said the company was in an "arms race" with Russia, warning there were people in the country tasked with finding ways to breach Facebook's systems.

After a torrid few weeks for the company's share price investors rewarded Mr Zuckerberg for appearing on the Hill.

Facebook stocks rose 4.5% on Tuesday, which is said to have swelled the entrepreneur's fortune by several billion dollars.

Speaking to the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees, the tech entrepreneur apologised that Facebook had not taken a "broad enough view" of its responsibility for people's public information.

"It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here," he said, in words from a prepared statement.

Mr Zuckerberg said its audit of third-party apps would highlight any misuse of personal information, and said the company would alert users instantly if it "found anything suspicious".

When asked why the company did not immediately alert the 87 million users whose data may have been accessed by Cambridge Analytica (CA) when first told about the "improper" usage in 2015, Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook considered it a "closed case" after CA said it had deleted it.

"In retrospect it was clearly a mistake to believe them," he said.

CA insists it deleted the data harvested by Professor Aleksandr Kogan's personality quiz app as soon as it was informed it breached Facebook's terms of use.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock will meet Facebook representatives in London on Wednesday.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica face multiple lawsuits over alleged misuse of personal information with at least five law firms in the UK and US investigating claims for compensation.

On the subject of fake news, Mr Zuckerberg said "one of my greatest regrets in running the company" was its slowness at uncovering and acting against disinformation campaigns by Russian trolls during the US election.

He said the Russian campaign of disinformation had been discovered "right around the time" of the US presidential election, and said the company had developed "new AI tools" to identify fake accounts responsible.

"You know there are people in Russia whose job is to exploit our systems... so this is an arms race," he said.

"They are going to keep getting better at this and we need to invest in keeping on getting better at this too."

Irish Independent

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