Nearly 3 million European Union citizens hit by Facebook data breach

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Facebook is also facing an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in what's become its worst privacy crisis in its 14-year history.

Facebook said it will require advertisers who want to run either political ads or so-called issue ads - which may not endorse a specific candidate or party but which discuss political topics - to verify themselves.

Facebook is trying to strengthen its system ahead of this year's US midterm elections as well as upcoming elections around the world.

"Any advertiser who doesn't pass will be prohibited from running political or issue ads", Mr Zuckerberg wrote.

In response, a variety of changes have been debuted and statements made by Facebook executives in order to take responsibility for the billions of users using the social network. It has not specified what number of followers would trigger the requirement. The move is meant to clamp down on fake pages and accounts that were used to disrupt the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S.

Although the data was openly given by Facebook to the university researcher, the company has said that this was legitimate and that only its further transfer to Cambridge Analytics was illicit.

Facebook users can opt out of seeing targeted ads, but can't shut off ads altogether.

The bill's sponsors said they welcomed Facebook's support.

The company has been refining its response in the wake of revelations that data on as many as 87 million people, a lot of them in the US, may have been improperly shared with research firm Cambridge Analytica.

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The political data-mining firm allegedly used ill-gotten Facebook user data in its efforts to sway elections. The company said the total number of potentially impacted users (562,455 people) is 0.6 pc of the global number of potentially affected people.

Sheryl Sandberg says Facebook should have conducted an audit after learning that a political consultancy improperly accessed user data almost three years ago.

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told NBC's "Today" show that at the time, Facebook received legal assurances that Cambridge Analytica had deleted the improperly obtained information.

Some advertisers have curtailed spending, Sandberg said in an interview on Thursday at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, where she acknowledged that her team has a long way to go to reassure wary customers. Hearings over the issue are scheduled in the US, and the European Union is considering what actions to take against the company.

Facebook's No. 2 executive says the company should have conducted an audit after learning that a political consultancy improperly accessed user data almost three years ago.

The social media giant, however, did not reveal the identity or locations of these 335 users.

Mr Wigand added that the EU's data protection authorities will discuss over the coming days "a strong co-ordinated approach" on how to deal with the investigation into Facebook.

It comes after online technology news publisher TechCrunch reported Facebook has been secretly deleting some messages its CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent through its Messenger application. For one, Facebook executives took almost five days to respond to the Cambridge Analytica reports. This, Facebook said, was "not authorize (d) and breached our policies".

A United Kingdom parliament committee investigating the impact of social media on recent elections on Friday announced former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix and former director Brittany Kaiser as future witnesses for a Fake News inquiry.