Facebook deletions spiked to 5,000 per day last month after it was revealed that the social media company had distributed over 87 million Facebook users’ personal data to political consultants Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm.
Allegedly, the data was used to influence voter opinion on behalf of politicians who hired Cambridge Analytica to collect the information.
Shortly after, Facebook began notifying users whether or not they had ever logged into the Facebook app called “This Is Your Digital Life,” which has been linked to the data distribution.
The app, created by a data scientist at Cambridge University, was a personality quiz that saved personal information from the people who used it, along with everyone on their list of friends.
What it means
The scandal raises concerns about ethical standards for social media companies and politics.
Cambridge Analytica was able to gain access to 87 million people’s profiles, likes, birthdays, locations, messages and news feeds.
Not only was this information used to create psychological profiles of each individual for targeted political advertising, but it was also distributed on the open Internet and made available in general circulation.
Various political organizations have also used this information to influence public opinion and voting outcome.
The incident also boils down to cybersecurity.
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The rapid growth of technology makes it easier than ever for data to be stolen from the web, even on giant social media platforms like Facebook.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg testified before Congress on April 10, 2018, and stated that the company has addressed the issue by banning Cambridge Analytica and adding 5,000 new employees to the security and content review team.
He also posted an update on the situation via Facebook.
How to see if your information was distributed
If you didn’t receive a notification from Facebook, there are other ways to find out if your data was distributed.
The “Review Apps and Sites” page will allow users to see and edit the type of information that is shared from their Facebook account.
Users can also visit the “Ad Preferences” page to control what types of ads they see and from what companies. This page gives users the listings of advertisers that are “running ads using a contact list they uploaded that includes contact info you shared with them or with one of their data partners.”
Keep in mind that removing these advertisers only hides their ads – it does not remove the user from their contact list.
The last method you can use is the “Account Privacy Settings,” which allows users to control what information is made public.
While these measures can do a little more to protect your data in the future, Zuckerburg admitted during his testimony that even if you delete your Facebook altogether or never had one in the first place, the social network can still amass data about you.
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