Facebook might fall in the lines of trouble with this new revelation of statistics related to Cambridge Analytics scandal. About information of 87 million users might have been put in jeopardy because of improper sharing by UK based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Out of the total 87 million, more than half a million users from India might be in this crowd whose data could be compromised. Although Facebook is assuring users with their statements concerning user’s privacy, this new revelation goes farther beyond the speculated number of users which was predicted earlier.
Previously it was being estimated that around 50 million people were included in the group of users whose data was improperly used, but now that the specific numbers are out the result is shocking for a lot of Facebook users. Ever since the reports about the scandal have surfaced, Facebook has been suffering through a major backlash from all sides.
Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer (CTO), Facebook, said yesterday “In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the US — may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.”
Most of the users whose information has been compromised are from the US – Data reveals that 70.8 million or 81% of the total leaked data comes from the US users. Indonesia and the United Kingdom come second with 1.1 million users’ data being compromised. India ranks seventh where information of 562,455 has been expected to be compromised.
The CTO also wrote a lengthy post explaining people about the leak “But Facebook Events have information about other people’s attendance as well as posts on the event wall, so it’s important that we ensure apps use their access appropriately. Starting today, apps using the API will no longer be able to access the guest list or posts on the event wall. And in the future, only apps we approve that agree to strict requirements will be allowed to use the Events API,” The executive commented that Facebook asked for permission from users after which the app was allowed to add events to the calendar and other related apps.
The CTO admitting to what caused the large-scale scandal said that they would tighten the security around their data. “We started approving these permissions in 2014, but now we’re tightening our review process — requiring these apps to agree to strict requirements before they can access this data.” Facebook is planning to do so by approving all apps which require access to information like check-ins, likes, photos, posts, videos, events and groups.
“We will also 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. In the next week, we will remove a developer’s ability to request data people shared with them if it appears they have not used the app for the last 3 months,” he said.
The CTO added the statement as an inclusion with his lengthy post about the same matter, he further went on saying “However, malicious actors have also abused these features to scrape public profile information by submitting phone numbers or email addresses they already have through search and account recovery. Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way. So we have now disabled this feature. We’re also making changes to account recovery to reduce the risk of scraping as well.”
Going by his words, it is apparent that Facebook’s information has been widely accessible especially given that features like searching using the phone number or email address were a big part of Facebook’s data sharing scheme. The reports also illustrated that this search feature in Bangladesh accounted for 7% of the total searches on the platform.
Another blog post which took on the same issue informed the public that now users have control about what ads they see. It also outlined that the user’s information is not shared with advertisers and the data policy defines this.
The company said the following in the same blog post “Facebook is part of the same company as WhatsApp and Oculus, and we explain how we share services, infrastructure and information. We also make clear that Facebook is the corporate entity that provides the Messenger and Instagram services, which now all use the same data policy. Your experience isn’t changing with any of these products,”
Facebook went on concluding the article by saying that the company was dedicated to protecting user’s information. The company said “We impose strict restrictions on how our partners can use and disclose data. We explain all of the circumstances where we share information and make our commitments to people more clear.”
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg is requesting users of Facebook to give him a second chance for reviving the social media platform.