This weekend The New York Times reported that 50 million Facebook users had their profile information harvested by the Trump-connected data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica via a personality app on the site.
Photo: Tim Bennett (Unsplash)
Essentially, a professor working with the firm created a personality test for people to take on the site, you know, like those viral tests that determine which Golden Girl you would be or How Southern Are You? and then harvested that data to build a targeted Facebook strategy based on what it learned about those individuals and their friends.
Here’s a video with the Cambridge Analytics whistleblower explaining what happened:
The worst part of this in that those 50 million people consented to all that data being collected about them, but probably didn’t realise to what extent. Here’s Facebook’s official comment on the matter:
“The claim that this is a data breach is completely false. Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent. People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”
So, if all that sounds horrible to you (it should), now’s a good time to go into Facebook and see exactly which apps you’re sharing information with and delete the ones you’d rather not be sharing with any more.
When I checked this morning I was surprised to see I was logged in using Facebook to 365 apps right now. Even though I’ve cleared these out before, scrolling through I found a number of apps and services I used once, or haven’t used in months – those need to go. You can check yours by clicking here.
Regardless of whether you keep everything or clear yours out as well, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to what information you’re giving an app access to when you sign up, as well as to go in and check these every few months or so to make sure you’re still OK sharing that info now.