Major advertisers in the UK threatened to stop running advertisements on Facebook last week citing concerns about Facebook's data security practices after news on Cambridge Analytica's data harvesting campaign spread like wildfire.
The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) which represents the leading British advertisers, announced last Wednesday that it would ask Facebook for a "full account of further potential issues" concerning the security of user data. ISBA added that advertisers would take "appropriate measures" once Facebook provided details about controls around the distribution of personal data.
"What we are hearing at ISBA is that advertisers are concerned. When we meet with Facebook tomorrow we want to understand the scope of the inquiry Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday. We want reassurances for our members that it will get to the bottom of the issues and any implications for the public and for advertisers," said Phil Smith, director general of ISBA.
"From the consumers' point of view, you have these extraordinary services you get from your social media and there's an exchange, you're giving your data," he added.
Following a meeting with Facebook's executives, Mr. Smith announced in a blog post that the meeting was "constructive and challenging" and that ISBA welcomed the steps that Facebook announced to move fast and address public and advertiser concerns.
Facebook has promised to investigate all apps that have access to large amounts of information to reduce data access and ban any developers who are suspected of misusing personally identifiable information of Facebook users. The company has also promised to inform affected users if their data is misused that the offending app will be deleted.
Other measures that Facebook has promised to implement include stopping an app's access to a user's information if the user hasn't used the app within the last three months, reducing the amount of data an app can request from users during the login process, helping users view and control what apps they use and how much data each app has access to, and initiating bug bounty programmes to reward people who offer evidence of data misuse by developers.
"It is clear from our meeting today that this is a priority for Facebook and that they now have a lot of work to do as they commence and conduct their forensic audit. Facebook have committed to work closely with ISBA to share developments and actions from this audit as and when they occur," said Mr. Smith.
Many advertisers are still unimpressed
Software giant Mozilla announced recently that questions around Facebook's data security controls has forced it to pause advertising on the platform until it sees the firm taking strong action to reassure people that data privacy settings have been significantly strengthened.
"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," wrote Mozilla CEO Denelle Dixon in a blog post.
"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," she added.
Commerzbank has also announced that it would pause its campaign on Facebook as brand safety and data security are important to the company.