Facebook's Zuckerberg breaks silence, says 'we also made mistakes'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday that Cambridge Analytica’s purported use of Facebook user data that the firm said it had deleted in 2015 constituted a “breach of trust.”

In his first public comments since revelations that Cambridge Analytica misused the personal information of millions of users during the 2016 presidential election campaign, Zuckerberg said that the social media giant will ban apps that refuse audits of data usage practices.

The billionaire tech leader added that Cambridge Analytica has agreed to undergo a forensic audit to determine whether it has indeed deleted the user data.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”

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Shortly after, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg put out a separate post: "We know that this was a major violation of peoples' trust."

Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica from its platform earlier this week after several news outlets reported that the United Kingdom-based data analytics firm misused the personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users. Alexander Nix, the firm’s now-suspended CEO, was caught on video by British broadcaster Channel 4 saying Cambridge played a major role in shaping Donald Trump’s digital campaign strategy during the 2016 presidential race.

The reports roiled Facebook investors and caused the social giant’s stock to plunge in trading. Share are down roughly 9% this week, and Zuckerberg’s personal net worth has declined by several billion dollars.

“I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform,” Zuckerberg wrote. “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.”

Zuckerberg said Facebook will take several steps to prevent the misuse of user data in the future. The platform will investigate apps that act suspiciously and conduct audits of their practices. Any apps or developers that refuse the audit will be banned, and impacted users will be alerted.

Additionally, Facebook will impose further restrictions on how developers can access user data, including automatically preventing developers from accessing the information of users who have not logged into an app in three months. The social platform will also make it easier for users to “opt out” of data sharing with apps they use.

“I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we'd like, but I promise you we'll work through this and build a better service over the long term,” Zuckerberg said.