The data privacy
controversy does not seem to be fading for the social media
giant as investigations are ongoing in the United States and
Europe and Facebook's stock price has been tumbling.
The acknowledgment was
part of a broader admission from Facebook about which levels of
user data have been used by others, ranging from malicious
actors to ordinary app developers.
"We’re an idealistic
and optimistic company, and for the first decade, we were really
focused on all the good that connecting people brings," Chief
Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters
Wednesday afternoon. "But it’s clear now that we didn’t focus
enough on preventing abuse and thinking about how people could
use these tools for harm as well."
Facebook for the first
time admitted to the scope of the improper data collection that
was amassed by Cambridge Analytica, the political data
consultants that were hired by the 2016 Trump campaign and a
number of other Republican candidates in the last two federal
The group was able to
access Facebook information for up to 87 million users, 71
million of whom are Americans, which had their data used to
construct "psychographic" profiles that included targeted
messaging to shape voter behavior.
that the issue of third-party collection was far wider than
previously stated and that the company's widespread user base
likely affected most of the developed world.
“Given the scale and
sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most
people on Facebook could have had their public profile
scraped,”the company wrote in its blog post.
Most malicious actors
gathered public profile information, including names, email
addresses, and phone numbers by using a "search and account
recovery" function, which Facebook said it has now disabled.
The data used by
Cambridge Analytica was far more extensive than the basic data
and included the names, home towns, work and education
histories, religious affiliations, and "likes" of other users,
posts, and more.
Other users affected
were in countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, U.K.,
Canada, and Mexico.
The Cambridge Analytica
whistleblower Christopher Wylie tweeted that the actual number
of profiles affected by the company, "Could be more tbh," which
is an abbreviation for "to be honest."
responded to Facebook's press release on Wednesday to claim that
it licensed data on 30 million users.
Facebook already banned
the data consultancy from its platform last month over obtaining
the data under false pretenses.
that the data scandal has likely affected about one out of every
four Americans after many were outraged at the flippancy of the
social media giant about the handling of the information of its
Facebook promised that
it is planning a major shift in its relationship with
third-party app developers and will now have "strict
requirements" for developers to access its platform.
Many legislators in the
U.S. responded positively to the press release as they prepare
for Facebook CEO Zuckerberg to testify in a number of hearings
“I’m deeply concerned
that Facebook only addresses concerns on its platform when it
becomes a public crisis, and that is simply not the way you run
a company that is used by over 2 billion people,” said Rep.
Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) said. “We need to know how they are
going to fix this problem next week at our hearing.”
"The more we learn, the
clearer it is that this was an avalanche of privacy violations
that strike at the core of one of our most precious American
values – the right to privacy," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) who
serves on the Senate Commerce Committee.