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Zuckerberg releases statement on Facebook data-harvesting debacle, admits ‘mistakes’

The entrance to the building housing the offices of Cambridge Analytica has a laptop showing the Facebook logo alongside a Cambridge Analytica sign in central London. Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica after it was revealed that the company had been improperly handling users’ private data. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement Wednesday, admitting that his company “made mistakes” when it came to data harvesting by Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that the Trump campaign used during the 2016 election, after it was revealed that the company had been improperly handling users’ private data.

On Monday, when Facebook announced the suspension of Cambridge Analytica and what the firm had been doing for years with data that Facebook had assured users was secure, the social network’s stock fell by 6.8 percent or roughly $40 billion.

In his post on the social media platform he created, Zuckerberg said:

We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't, then we don't deserve to serve you. I've been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there's more to do, and we need to step up and do it.

He then went on to give a timeline of events that led up to the ban. He also promised that Facebook would investigate any apps that had access to large amounts of information before 2014 when the company tightened its restrictions on what information apps could harvest.

Zuckerberg announced the rollout of a new tool, one that would go at the top of users’ Facebook News Feeds, and that would make it easier to determine which apps have access to personal data. Zuckerberg said this was a version of what already existed in Facebook’s privacy settings, but that he wanted to “put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it.”

He concluded with an apology to users.

I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform. I'm serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.
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