Facebook is ducking for cover today as the company reels from the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox web browser, has become the latest company to suspend its advertising on Facebook. The open source organization is the latest major company to pull ads.
A report from the New York Time and The Observer showed a researcher had access to personal data from over quarter of a million Facebook users. From these 270,000 members, the researcher could access 50 million friends and pass the data to Cambridge Analytica. The scandal has called into question Facebook's privacy settings and data use.
Facebook actually prevents this kind of data siphoning, but the company's efforts were obviously not enough. Founder Mark Zuckerberg has been groveling today and issued an apology. However, it was clearly not enough for Mozilla. The company says it is concerned by how Facebook handles data:
“This news caused us to take a closer look at Facebook's current default privacy settings given that we support the platform with our advertising dollars. While we believe there is still more to learn, we found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data – particularly with respect to settings for third party apps.”
“Facebook's current app permissions leave billions of its users vulnerable without knowing it,” it continues. “If you play games, read news or take quizzes on Facebook, chances are you are doing those activities through third-party apps and not through Facebook itself. The default permissions that Facebook gives to those third parties currently include data from your education and work, current city and posts on your timeline.
“We're asking Facebook to change its policies to ensure third parties can't access the information of the friends of people who use an app.”
Cambridge Analytica used the data to create voter profiles on US citizens. Since the scandal emerged, Facebook has saw $50billion wiped off its value and advertisers question the morality of the company.
Zuckerberg has been eager to point out the situation was merely a mistake. “This was a major breach of trust and I'm really sorry that this happened. Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn't happen again”.
Users have been urged to follow advertisers and leave the social network. However, just how many members Facebook bleeds remains to be seen, but its base should remain intact. Even companies like Mozilla say they are unlikely to pull the plug forever.
“We are encouraged that Mark Zuckerberg has promised to improve the privacy settings and make them more protective. When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we'll consider returning,” Mozilla writes. “We look forward to Facebook instituting some of the things that Zuckerberg promised today.”