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Facebook starts sending alerts to users affected by Cambridge Analytica data breach

Lester Hio

The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Singapore  /  Tue, April 10, 2018  /  12:30 pm
Facebook starts sending alerts to users affected by Cambridge Analytica data breach

A 3D-printed Facebook like button is seen in front of the Facebook logo, in this illustration taken October 25, 2017. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic)

Facebook has started informing the 87 million users on its platform if their data was improperly shared with data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Those with affected accounts will see a notification on the top of their Facebook's News Feed informing them what happened and how they are affected.

Facebook told tech news site The Verge in a report that ran early Tuesday morning (April 10, Singapore time) that "the notification is rolling out over the course of today".

This marks the first time users will know if their account information was shared or not.

"We have banned the website 'This Is Your Digital Life', which one of your friends used Facebook to log into," the notification reads. "We did this because the website may have misused some of your Facebook information by sharing it with a company called Cambridge Analytica."

Furthermore, all of Facebook's 2.2 billion users will also see a prompt on the top of their News Feed that gives them quick access to check which apps and websites they are currently sharing data with.

Users can then choose to remove these apps from their account, which stops them from accessing further data from their profiles.

Read also: Over 1m Indonesian users affected in Facebook privacy scandal

These notifications are part of Facebook's attempts to deal with a global scandal where information about its users was improperly accessed by third-party companies.

The social media company revealed last week that 65,009 Facebook users here had their Facebook information inappropriately shared with Cambridge Analytica, which is said to have exploited the data for commercial and political use.

The "thisisyourdigitallife" app was a personality quiz administered by data scientist and academic Aleksandr Kogan, from Cambridge University, who paid hundreds of thousands of users to take it for academic research purposes.

However, the app also collected information of the test-takers' Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of a data pool of over 80 million users.

Facebook banned the app in 2015 but the data collected was not destroyed, in violation of Facebook's personal data policy.

Facebook has since also suspended two other data analytics firms for improperly handling or sharing user information: American firm Cubeyou and Canadian company AggregateIQ.

This article appeared on The Straits Times newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post