Facebook has finally confessed that Cambridge Analytica might have gained access to the private data of users amounting to almost 87 million users, not the 50 million users that have been previously reported.
To this, the Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer revealed the new figure in a blog post focused on Facebook’s plans to “restrict data access” on the social media platform.
The majority i.e. about 70.5 million of affected users are in the US, but the remaining 19% are in several other countries, listing names like the UK, Canada, Australia, and India.
The Facebook post read that, “We do not know precisely what data the app shared with Cambridge Analytica or exactly how many people were impacted. Using as expansive a methodology as possible, this is our best estimate of the maximum number of unique accounts that directly installed the thisisyourdigitallife app as well as those whose data may have been shared with the app by their friends.”
This refers to the fact that Facebook doesn’t know for sure which users have shared their friends’ Facebook data, and that the true number could be lower than 87 million.
Users will be able to click a link on the top of their News Feed that provides this information. Then they would be also able to “see what apps they use — and the information they have shared with those apps”, and then delete those apps if they so choose.
Last week, Facebook has the process in which it would make it easier for users to find their privacy settings and link apps with access to their private data.
In the recent blog post, Facebook announced plans to go much further, limiting what information third-party apps can access even if users give the apps permission.
In particular, the days where users could inadvertently give apps information on Facebook friends are over.
For example, apps could previously gain an access to the events, including private guest lists and posts. Now, if the users would want to grant access to the events, apps would only perceive that they are attending and any public information, but not any private content.
Further, this new rule also applies to other Facebook features like Groups or Pages. So, by protecting these member lists from the data requests of a single user or admin, Facebook ensures that companies can’t find ready-made lists of political activity for selfish or nefarious purposes.
Most importantly, Facebook is preventing seemingly innocuous quizzes, like thisisyourdigitallife, from asking for any personal details that could be used to develop a profile of users.
Specifically, Facebook would “no longer allow apps to ask for access to personal information such as religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom friends lists, education and work history, fitness activity, book reading activity, music listening activity, news reading, video watch activity, and games activity.”
Moreover, if an app or game haven’t been for more than three months, Facebook would ban that app from asking for the latest updates on your life. With this, Facebook has also disabled the ability to search for friends using a phone number or email address.
To conclude, Schroepfer added that, “malicious actors have also abused these features to scrape public profile information by submitting phone numbers or email addresses they already have”, and that “most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way.”