We’re sure you’ve heard of Cambridge Analytica (CA), the controversial company that harvested data from Facebook and then used it in ways that you almost certainly wouldn’t have wanted.
About a month ago, we reported how a CA whistleblower named Christopher Wylie claimed that the company had allegedly:
…exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.
Were you affected?
The thing is that CA didn’t crack passwords, break into accounts, rely on zillions of fake profiles, exploit programming vulnerabilities, or do anything that was technically out of order.
Instead, CA persuaded enough people to trust and approve its Facebook app, called “This is Your Digital Life”, that it was able to access, accumulate and allegedly to abuse personal data from millions of users.
That’s because the app grabbed permission to access data not only about you, but about your Facebook friends.
In other words, if one of your friends installed the app, then they might have shared with CA various information that you’d shared with them, even if you didn’t install the app yourself.
But how to find out which of your friends (some of whom may be ex-friends by now) installed the app, and how to be sure that they remember correctly whether they used the app or not?
Facebook has now come up with a way, given that it has logs that show who used the app, and who was friends with them.
We used this link:
After we’d logged into Facebook, we got the result we hoped for:
Based on our available records, neither you nor your friends logged into “This Is Your Digital Life.”
As a result, it doesn’t appear your Facebook information was shared with Cambridge Analytica by “This Is Your Digital Life.”
Phew – we’re OK.
Unfortunately, you might not be, but if you don’t yet know, it’s worth finding out, even if only to help you decide how to approach social networks, friending and sharing from now on.
What to do?
If some of your personal data has fallen into Cambridge Analytica’s hands, there’s nothing much you can do about that now – the horse has already bolted.
But it’s still worth locking the stable door, to tighten things up for next time.
As Facebook recommends, review and update the information you share with apps and websites via the Facebook settings page.
Also, consider how much personal data you want to share with your Facebook friends – and how many friends you want to share it with.
Remember: if in doubt, don’t give it out.