As many as 1.1m British residents could have had their data harvested without their permission or knowledge, says Facebook – part of a whopping 87m global users of the social media it now admits may have been snooped on.
The revelation caps a terrible fortnight for the IT giant, whose CTO and CEO, Mike Schroepfer and Mark Zuckerberg respectively, have both had to make very public apologies for decisions that seem to have made it far too easy for the personal details of its users to have been spied on by others.
“It is reasonable to expect that if you had that [default] setting turned on, that in the last several years someone has probably accessed your public information in this way,” Zuckerberg told the world yesterday.
The company has promised a range of measures to address the issue, including updates to its terms of service for users and data use policy for third parties, which Shroepfer’s mea culpa blog goes into in more detail.
Zuckerberg also raised even more privacy eyebrows when he seemed to imply that while his company would abide by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules, but only in Europe – where only a minority of Facebook users are based.
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Zuckerberg also told US media last night that, “Today, given what we know… I think we understand that we need to take a broader view of our responsibility [around protecting user data privacy].”
‘The Zuck’ can now expect a grilling from US lawmakers, who have demanded that he appear before them next week (April 11) to explain what went wrong – though he had refused a similar invite from MPs last week.
While the company’s share price will probably recover, the wider question has to be how consumers and citizens will react to their data being put online going forward.
Many of these issues will be raised at next month’s Think Digital Identity for Government 2018, whose organisers believe a conversation is necessary over the practice and ethics of identity in public service.
If you care about these issues and believe the Facebook scandal has changed the landscape – it may well be worth your while to come along and join the debate.