Following news over the weekend that the data firm Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest over 50 million Facebook users’ private information without their consent, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been noticeably silent. Now, however, Zuckerberg is reportedly ready to speak about the massive data breach, which has thrown his company into a state of chaos.
What he will say remains something of a mystery. After news broke on Saturday that the data collected by Cambridge Analytic was eventually used to develop insights for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, there have been no public statements from the Facebook CEO or his COO, Sheryl Sandberg. However, an official statement from the social media giant on Tuesday said that the two were “working around the clock” to discover how the data breach was allowed to happen.
The issue at play, however, is that Facebook probably knows exactly how this happened. Cambridge Analytica exploited Facebook by using a personality test app to retrieve data from users and their friends. Facebook has said that just 270,000 people “gave their consent” to allow the third-party app, “thisisyourdigitallife,” to access their social information. The app, developed by University of Cambridge professor Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, offered personality predictions and billed itself as a research app used by psychologists. But the app also collected the information of the test-takers’ Facebook friends, leading to a web of 50 million users’ data that could be sold to third parties.
Axios reports that Zuckerberg intends to say something meaningful when he finally steps forward Wednesday, and that he hasn’t wanted to rush into what he will say. As Facebook stocks plummet, and the FTC has reportedly begun investigating whether Facebook has violated user consent because of the data dump, Zuckerberg certainly be choosing his words carefully.
With files from Mary von Aue.