It has been reported by The New York Times and The Guardian that Cambridge Analytica, a political data-mining and consulting firm, collected and accessed over 50 million Facebook users’ private information without their knowledge. They used this data to develop a software program that profiled these citizens to predict voting patterns – and, through micro-targeted ads, influence US citizens’ voting decisions.
How Can I Tell If My Information Was Obtained by Cambridge Analytica?
Cambridge Analytica (CA) obtained voter data through a Facebook-linked app named ‘thisisyourdigitallife’. Through the app, CA member Aleksandr Kogan paid Facebook users in exchange for a detailed personality test, supposedly for academic research purposes.
The app also pulled personal data from all of the test-taker’s linked Facebook friends without their consent—data that, per Facebook’s Platform Policy, can only be used to enhance the in-app experience, and should not be given out to anyone.
Instead, Kogan and his associates allegedly built a software platform for influencing US elections, and sold it for use in the 2016 presidential election.
Around a quarter of a million people took the test willingly, but 50 million people reportedly ended up having their private data used for political and financial gain without their knowledge or consent.
I didn’t use the thisisyourdigitallife app – was my information still breached?
It could have been. Unfortunately, you didn’t have to use the app to have your information compromised. Reports are saying that the app took personal data from the friends of people who used the app. So if you are friends with someone who used the thisisyourdigitallife app, it is likely that you were affected. Of the 50 million Facebook users whose information was used by Cambridge Analytica, only 270,000 actually used the app.
What kind of information was compromised?
Through 270,000 people who used the thisisyourdigitallife app, Kogan and Cambridge Analytica were able to get access to data from some 50 million Facebook users. This means, the vast majority of users who had their data compromised never authorized the app to access their accounts. The data could have included:
- Status updates
Cambridge Analytica’s data for “roughly 30 million [people] contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles.”
What should I do?
If you are concerned about the security of your Facebook account, we are here to help. The Hannon Law Firm is actively investigating the Facebook data breach and would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about your concerns and experience. Contact us by calling 303-861-8800, or by filling out the contact form below.