The Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, testified before the US Congress about the data breach scandal his company has been involved in
Zuckerberg said in Congress that he would not oppose a form of regulation of the Internet, which he sees as “inevitable”, given its increasing importance across the world.
The Facebook chief executive has also apologized for not doing enough to protect the users’ personal data: "Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do. And as Facebook has grown people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool for staying connected to the people they love, for making their voices heard and for building communities and businesses. Just recently we’ve seen the #metoo movement and the March for Our Lives organised, at least on part, on Facebook. After hurricane Harvey people came together to raise more than $20 million for relief. And more than 70 million small businesses used Facebook to create jobs and grow. But it's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools form being used as harm as well. And that goes for fake news, for foreign interference in elections and hate speech as well as developers and data privacy. We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake and it was my mistake and I'm sorry.”
Zuckerberg’s hearing in Congress has taken place after it was revealed that data analytics company Cambridge Analytica secretly harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users, which it allegedly used to understand their psychology in order to influence their vote in favour of Donald Trump and in the case of Brexit.
So now we have to go through every part of our relationship with people and make sure that we’re taking a broad enough view of our responsibility, Mark Zuckerberg said before the US Congress: “It's not enough to just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive. It's not enough to give people a voice. We have to make sure people aren't using it to harm people or spread disinformation. And it’s not enough to give people tools to sign into apps, we have to ensure that all of those developers protect people’s information too.”
Romanian nationals have also been among the Facebook users whose personal data has been used. Invited on a show on Radio Romania, Bogdan Botezatu, a cyber-threat expert at BitDefender, has referred, among others, to the dangers related to access to personal data available online and about what happened at Cambridge Analytica.
Bogdan Botezatu: “Currently, data and information on users are the new petroleum. Any company which respects itself uses the so called telemetry, that is it aggregates and purchases information from other companies and puts all the pieces together. Companies usually do this for financial purposes, that is any company which has access to such information will try to get money by selling advertising space or time, in accordance with the information measurements. We are speaking about various products. What is different now with Facebook, is that they have sold presidents, political candidates and maybe messages to leave the European Union, for us to buy. This is the only difference-we haven’t been sold products, but political candidates”.
Data of some 100,000 Romanians have thus been collected. Are the Romanians more vulnerable or more resistant? Bogdan Botezatu: “I believe we are just as vulnerable to this kind of manipulation as any other country, as any other population that has access to technology. The situation has been in the media many times, although here we have used the term ‘fake news’. The fact that there were also Romanians who were profiled by the Cambridge Analytica app shows there’s a certain amount of interest in this country, because on the Internet we are able to somehow classify the population we speak to. In the early days of this survey users were paid one dollar to install the app in question and take the survey. So Cambridge Analytica found several hundred or perhaps several thousands of people in Romania who were willing to take part in the survey, it paid money to get them to join the respective study. So there’s probably an interest here. They also wanted to collect information about Romanians, to profile them a bit, in the event they have a business partner in Romania, politic figures or organisations or anybody else who might want to run a campaign with Cambridge Analytica.”
Unfortunately, says Bogdan Botezatu, no software can be created that makes users immune to such apps.