Facebook officials released a Data Abused Bounty on April 10, rewarding now anyone who reports data abuse. The monetary awards will go to those with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a Facebook platform app collects and transfers people’s data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence, they said. The reward will be based on the impact of each report.
“While there is no maximum, high impact bug reports have garnered as much as $40,000 for people who bring them to our attention,” FB officials said.
The added precautions came amidst the Cambridge Analytica scandal, accusers saying that FB allowed data to be collected on over 80 million users for Trump’s presidential campaign without their knowledge. FB founder Mark Zuckerberg went before Congress this week, formally apologizing for errors made from within the company that allowed the scandal to unfold. The CEO took full responsibility for the organization’s part in the debacle.
“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy,” Zuckerberg said in opening remarks before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.
“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake,” he continued. “It was a big mistake. And I’m sorry. I started Facebook. I run it and I’m responsible for what happens here…”
FB released a list of actions taken by the company to ensure users that they will be safe in the future. They are:
- “Made our privacy tools easier to find through Privacy Shortcuts at the top of News Feed.
- Restricted apps by limiting Facebook Login data and revoking access for unused apps after three months.
- Political and issue ads now clearly labeled and allowed by authorized users only (based on identity and location).
- Election Commission to conduct an independent, forward looking assessment of our role in elections.
- App Controls at the top of News Feed for people potentially impacted by Cambridge Analytica and for everyone reminding them which apps have access to their data and how to delete them.
- Launched Data Abuse Bounty program to reward people who report any misuse of data by app developers…”
“We’ll review all legitimate reports and respond as quickly as possible when we identify a credible threat to people’s information,” officials said via a statement released to the public this week.
“If we confirm data abuse, we will shut down the offending app and take legal action against the company selling or buying the data, if necessary. We’ll pay the person who reported the issue, and we’ll also alert those we believe to be affected.
This program is the first of its kind so it will change as we learn and get your feedback.”
Zuckerberg faced about five hours of questioning from lawmakers on Capitol Hill this Tuesday. But he had already been fielding questions from reporters before then. The Sentinel was part of a conference call last week, during which Zuckerberg had been apologetic while at the same time touting the benefits of the social media company started during his college days, to the public.
“It’s not enough to just connect people, we have to make sure those connections are positive,” Zuckerberg told reporters.
“It’s not enough to just give people a voice, we have to make sure people aren’t using it to harm other people or spread misinformation. It’s not enough to give people control of their information, we have to make sure developers they’ve given it to are protecting it too. Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good.
“It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I’m committed to getting it right. This includes the basic responsibility of protecting people’s information and safeguard elections around the world. My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together. I believe deeply in what we’re doing.
“And I know that when we address these challenges, we’ll look back and view helping people connect and giving more people a voice as a positive force in the world. I realize the issues we’re talking about today aren’t just issues for Facebook and our community — they’re challenges for all of us as Americans…”