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It's also investigating every app that had access to large amounts of data. "This was a breach of trust, and I'm sorry we didn't do more at the time", Zuckerberg wrote.

The ads, which didn't mention Cambridge Analytica by name, sought to reassure users that Facebook had already taken steps to prevent a similar privacy breach from occurring in the future.

In 2013, Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan is alleged to have collected data from 50 million users using a quiz app before passing the information to election consultancy Cambridge Analytica (CA) in 2014. We suspect there are others.

"And we have a responsibility to do this, not only for the 2018 midterms in the United States, which are going to be a huge deal this year and that's just a huge focus for us but there's a big election in India this year, there's a big election in Brazil, there are big elections around the world, and you can bet that we are really committed to doing everything that we need to make sure that the integrity of those elections on Facebook is secured".

Elizabeth Denham, head of the ICO, sought the warrant after a whistleblower said Cambridge Analytica had gathered private information of 50 million Facebook users to support Donald Trump's 2016 US presidential campaign.

Investors have been too kind to Facebook Inc. this time around, with speculators bargain hunting and, why not when considering the slide, but capital is at risk, particularly if the U.S government takes the boldest of steps and decides to shut it down. "And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected", the ads stated.

Both that statement and this letter suggests Facebook will restrict access to users' data for third-parties - a move which has contributed to the company shedding tens of billions of dollars off its value as the scandal continues.

Video: Can Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook survive?

The plain black text apology on a white background, with only a tiny Facebook logo, appeared in Sunday publications including The Observer - one of the newspapers whose reporting on the issue has sent Facebook's share price tumbling.

The social media giant's market cap has dropped about $50 billion since details on the story were first published last week. "Bugs can cause damage, but bugs are created by people, and can be fixed by people", he said.

"It's psychologically harder to let go of a platform like Facebook that's become pretty well ingrained into people's lives", Ms Williamson explained.