Apps Suspended in Facebook's Ongoing Internal Data Misuse Investigation

Apps Suspended in Facebook's Ongoing Internal Data Misuse Investigation

Back in March, the world learned that Cambridge Analytica was able to access data from up to 87 million users - the number is the latest estimate provided by Zuckerberg - and use that data to target certain groups of people during the United States presidential election.

Facebook suspended the myPersonality app on April 7, citing it may have breached Facebook's data agreement.

The company boasts it can "find your voters and move them to action" through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists. They registered as a collaborator to the project and received login credentials to the site. However, a backdoor made it easy for any bad actor to steal the information, even those without an academic contract. While academics at the University of Cambridge meant to limit access to researchers, a username and password to view the info was listed on the code-sharing site GitHub for four years. As far as anonymization goes, that's no almost good enough: anyone could easily discover the Facebook identity of each user based on some of that data.

The leaked data: Psychological test results, status updates, and personal information like age, gender, and relationship status were exposed.


The company is not disclosing the names of the suspended apps until it can complete the review. Cambridge Analytica was later accused of using that database to help targeted campaigns during the USA presidential election in 2016. The app audit was part of Facebook's grand mea-culpa earlier this year, after the part the social network played in the Cambridge Analytica scandal was revealed.

Facebook didn't identify any of the 200 apps.

It's important to note that unlike Kogan's, this app did not sell information to researchers or institutions. While reportedly working for multiple political campaigns, Cambridge Analytica gathered data from these millions of social media accounts to develop a mechanism that would predict and influence the behavior of voters. Facebook will continue updating users on its progress against data privacy violations over the weeks until the audit process is complete for all apps.

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