Vietnam Time

4/5/2018 8:17:40 AM

Facebook says 87 million may be affected by data breach

Facebook said on Wednesday (April 4th) the personal data of up to 87 million users was improperly shared with British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, as Mark Zuckerberg defended his leadership at the huge social network.

The new figure eclipses a previous estimate of 50 million in a further embarrassment to the social network roiled by a privacy scandal. (AFP/LOIC VENANCE)

Facebook's estimate was far higher than news reports suggesting 50 million users may have been affected in the privacy scandal which has roiled the company and sparked questions for the entire internet sector on data protection.

Zuckerberg told reporters on a conference call he accepted responsibility for the failure to protect user data but maintained that he was still the best person to lead the network of two billion users.

"I think life is about learning from the mistakes and figuring out how to move forward," he said in response to a question on his ability to lead the company.

"When you're building something like Facebook which is unprecedented in the world, there are things that you're going to mess up ... What I think people should hold us accountable for is if we are learning from our mistakes."

Zuckerberg said 87 million was a high estimate of those affected by the breach, based on the maximum number of connections to users who downloaded an academic researcher's quiz that scooped up personal profiles.

"I'm quite confident it will not be more than 87 million, it could well be less," he said.

To remedy the problem, Zuckerberg said Facebook must "rethink our relationship with people across everything we do" and that it will take a number of years to regain user trust.

The new estimate came as Facebook unveiled clearer terms of service to enable users to better understand data sharing, and as a congressional panel said Zuckerberg would appear next week to address privacy issues.

The personal data of up to 87 million users was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. (Image: Facebook)

ZUCKERBERG ON THE HILL

Facebook's chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer meanwhile said new privacy tools for users of the huge social network would be in place by next Monday.

"People will also be able to remove apps that they no longer want. As part of this process we will also tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica," he said in a statement.

Schroepfer's post was the first to cite the figure of 87 million while noting that most of those affected were in the United States.

Facebook also said its new terms of service would provide clearer information on how data is collected and shared without giving the social network additional rights.

Earlier on Wednesday, the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee announced what appeared to be the first congressional appearance by Zuckerberg since the scandal broke.

The April 11 hearing will "be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online," said the committee's Republican chairman Greg Walden and ranking Democrat Frank Pallone in a statement.

The Facebook co-founder is also invited to other hearings amid a broad probe on both sides of the Atlantic.

Zuckerberg told the conference call he was committed to ensuring that Facebook and its partners do a better job of protecting user data, and that it must take a more serious approach after years of being "idealistic" about how the platform is used.

"We didn't take a broad enough view on what our responsibility is, and that was a huge mistake. It was my mistake."

He said that while "there are billions of people who love the service," there is also a potential for abuse and manipulation.

"It's not enough just to give people a voice," he said. "We have to make sure people don't use that voice to hurt people or spread disinformation."

VNF/AFP  
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