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Data Commissioner 'actively supervising Facebook’s progress in cleaning up its act'

Up to 45,000 Irish Facebook profiles may have been affected by the Cambridge Analytica data breach.

Facebook Privacy Advice for Zuckerberg Mark Zuckerberg Source: Nam Y. Huh/PA Images

Updated 9.45pm

THE OFFICE OF the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) has said it is “actively supervising Facebook’s progress in cleaning up its act and ensuring users’ data is protected”.

The office was commenting after it emerged that up to 45,000 Irish Facebook profiles may have been affected by the Cambridge Analytica data breach.

Last night, Facebook revealed that the number of profiles affected by the mass data scrape is more likely closer to 87 million than the 50 million originally mooted.

Of that number, as many as 44,687 Irish profiles may have been affected as a consequence of just 15 Irish people installing the thisisyourdigitallife app which provided the gateway to the initial data breach.

In a statement released this evening, the ODPC said: “Facebook needs to be fully transparent about the extent to which users’ data has been misused.

“It will take time for Facebook to fully identify the risks and harms arising from misuse of data given that there are about 1.6 million active apps on the Facebook platform.

“The next step in European data regulation is the General Data Protection Regulation, which becomes effective next month, and brings with it heavy fines for companies breaching rules on the use and sharing of data.”

Facebook earlier said: “Our investigation shows that the people impacted were predominantly in the United States – 97.1% of users who installed the app are understood to have been primarily in the US, while 81.2% of total affected people, ie installers and their friends, were in the US.

However, we do know that 15 people in Ireland installed thisisyourdigitallife, and up to 44,687 people in Ireland may have been friends with someone who installed the app, and, therefore, may have been affected. This represents 0.0516% of the total number of people affected.

Mark Zuckerberg 

Last night, the company’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he remains the best person to lead the social network despite acknowledging mistakes in underestimating abuse of the platform.

Zuckerberg told reporters on a conference call that he accepted responsibility for the hijacking of private user data and other abuses, but when asked if he remained the best person to lead Facebook, he answered, “Yes.”

“I think life is about learning from the mistakes and figuring out how to move forward,” he said.

When you’re building something like Facebook which is unprecedented in the world, there are things that you’re going to mess up. What I think people should hold us accountable for is if we are learning from our mistakes.

In a statement released last night, Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said: “In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people – mostly in the US – may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.”

Last month, the New York Times and Britain’s Observer and Guardian newspapers detailed how Cambridge Analytica stole information from tens of millions of Facebook users’ profiles in the tech giant’s biggest-ever data breach.

The firm, best known for its work on Donald Trump’s US presidential election campaign, used the data to help them design software to predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.

Meanwhile, its CEO Alexander Nix was suspended after being secretly filmed by Channel 4 allegedly touting the use of bribery and entrapment to swing elections.

Yesterday’s announcement detailed steps the tech giant says it is taking to protect people’s data.

With reporting by Órla Ryan and © – AFP, 2018

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