Facebook is back in the news, shocker right? *If there was a sarcasm font it would’ve been used there*. I don’t think I can recall it ever being anything that made the users happy though. But moving right along. Last week it was discovered that Facebook had shared the data of 50 million users without their permission. The data was shared with a psychologist at Cambridge Analytica, and somehow ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica is a political consulting firm, that worked with the Trump Campaign. And that my friends is probably piqued my interest initially. So I followed it a little more…
So wait my data was given to Trump’s campaign???
Not directly it wasn’t. And to further clarify Facebook itself didn’t just hand over the data in an interoffice envelope. A researcher that works for Cambridge Analytica got the data of 50 million users from a Facebook quiz, he created, oh and a loophole in the API that allowed third-party developers to collect data not only from users of their apps but from all of the people in those users’ friends network on Facebook. It had a “rule” that the data wasn’t to be sold or marketed…..clearly this didn’t work out well. The quiz was used by 270,000 users and since the app collected data from their friends that’s where the 50 million total comes from.
Next connection, Steve Bannon, who was Trump’s Senior Adviser until recently, was the Vice President of Cambridge Analytica, and during the 2016 election connected Trump and the consulting firm. It
But I’m not here to talk politics…
I never like to be “Debbie Downer” when I see friends using the apps on Facebook or taking the quizzes. But they do tend to lead to viruses and other shenanigans because well you’re opening your data (and in this unfortunate case the data of your friends) to whomever made the app. Alot of times most people accept whatever settings the app asks for, and just use it. I’m not under any illusion that what I post on Facebook is private, and I hope you’re not.
At the end of the day Facebook knew about the loophole and also charged with a level of privacy to their users. That at the very least the data is not going to be sold to the highest bidder, or given to an ad agency. That’s why the FTC is investigating Facebook and why Mark Zuckerberg has issued a subsequent apology.
But if you’re curious about your data, rather what’s included in your Facebook data besides what you post, take these steps. Go to Facebook settings (this is under the upper right hand corner after the globe for notification, under the drop down arrow. Under general account settings you’ll see an option to download your Facebook data (it will be in a .zip file you’ll need to extract)
Some users have reported finding call logs and other things in it (I haven’t done it just yet, I’ll report back). But again the app and any other app you download tells you what things you’re granting it access to. There is a #DeleteFacebook campaign/trend on Twitter but what other options are out there and I mean a good option to rival Facebook? That’d be the only way it would actually work.
Have you been following this? Are you surprised? Do you use the quizzes on Facebook?