How to find out if your private Facebook data was shared with Cambridge Analytica

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Following the scandalous revelation that Cambridge Analytica exploited the Facebook platform to collect data on undecided US voters through an inconspicuous quiz app, the social network has now released a web-based tool to check if your account may have been exploited.

According to the latest numbers released by Facebook itself, as many as 87 million people have been affected by the Cambridge Analytica breach, with 70 million of the affected accounts located in the United States and the rest are international accounts.

Seeing if you’re affected by Cambridge Analytica breach

To see if your private information like your public profile, birthday, current city, page likes and more may have been shared without your consent with the app called “This Is Your Digital Life” that violated Facebook’s platform policies by sending your private information to Cambridge Analytica, visit Facebook’s dedicated webpage in your web browser.

See if Cambridge Analytica’s quiz app stole your information

If you see a message under the headline “Was My Information Shared?” informing you that neither you nor your friends logged in to “This Is Your Digital Life,” you’re in the clear.

Should the webpage say that your Facebook information was apparently shared with Cambridge Analytica,  review what you share with apps and websites on Facebook and eventually consider the nuclear option of deleting your Facebook account permanently.

How is Facebook preventing platform abuse?

Here’s what they’re doing to identify past abuse and prevent future abuse of the platform:

  • Notifying you if an app misused your data. Moving forward, if we remove an app for misusing data, we’ll tell everyone who used that app. We’re also building a way for you to see if your data might have been accessed through “thisisyourdigitallife,” the app that sent data to Cambridge Analytica and violated our platform policies.
  • Making it easier to manage the apps you use. We already show you what apps your account is connected to and what data you’ve permitted those apps to use. Going forward, we’re making these choices easier to find and manage by showing you a tool at the top of your News Feed.
  • Turning off access for unused apps. If you haven’t used an app within the last three months, we’ll remove the app’s access to your information.
  • Restricting Facebook Login data. We’re changing the way login works to reduce the data that an app can request without app review. Apps can only request name, profile photo and email address. Requesting any other data will require our approval.

They’re even pausing app approvals temporarily until this ordeal gets sorted out.

Why this privacy breach is unprecedented

The potential misuse of your Facebook data should not be taken lightly.

Information a researcher was able to gather on tens of millions of Facebook users in the United States and elsewhere was sold to the political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica which mined the data to gain insight into undecided voters and target them with tailored political advertisements which exploited their fears and doubts.

Facebook is taking action to prevent this from happening in the future. For starters, they overhauled their privacy tools to make them easier to find and use.

Next, Zuck & Co. are making ads and pages on the platform more transparent so it’s clear who they are coming from. The company has also launched a new initiative to help provide independent, credible research about the role of social media in elections.

Lastly, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about his company’s efforts to better protect people’s information ahead of his testimony at two congressional hearings this week.

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