WASHINGTON: In the wake of alleged misuse of user data on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg - founder of the social media giant - on Tuesday appeared before the US Congress. Zuckerberg testified before a joint hearing of the US Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees. On April 11, the Facebook CEO is scheduled to testify at the US House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In the hearing, Zuckerberg apologised and said, "We didn't do enough to keep fake news and foreign interference in elections away. We didn’t take a broad view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake and I’m sorry for what happened. I started Facebook and I run it. I take full responsibility as the CEO of Facebook."
"We are getting to the bottom of what Cambridge Analytica did and telling everyone affected. We now know that they improperly accessed some information of millions of users by buying it from an app developer, information like names, profile picture and pages they follow," Zuckerberg added.
Facebook has come under fire in recent weeks after it was revealed that the personal data of millions of users of the website fell into the hands of a political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica that worked for US President Donald Trump's campaign.
The firm's former employee Christopher Wylie accused Cambridge Analytica of gathering the details of Facebook through a personality quiz in 2014. He alleged that because 270,000 people took the quiz, the data of some 50 million users, mainly in the US, was harvested without their explicit consent via their friend networks.
On April 5, the social media giant, however, revealed that the data of as many as 87 million users was improperly shared with British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, far greater than the 50 million previously estimated.
Wylie further claimed the data was sold to Cambridge Analytica, which then used it to psychologically profile people and deliver material in favour of Trump during the 2016 US presidential elections. He also criticised the firm for running campaigns in "struggling democracies", which he called "an example of what modern-day colonialism looks like," as per PTI.
Denying all allegations, Cambridge Analytica has, however, maintained that none of the data acquired was used as part of the services it provided to the Trump campaign.
Amid data breach backlash, Facebook recently said that it will overhaul its privacy settings tools to put users "more in control" of their information. The updates will include improved access to Facebook's user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by them.
A new privacy shortcuts menu will allow users to quickly increase account security, manage who can see their information and activity on the site and control advertisements they see, they had also said. "We've heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed," chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer had said in a post.
(With inputs from agencies)