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In case you may have missed it, Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm, was found to have secretly accessed the private information of more than 87 million Facebook users. This unprecedented data breach occurred back in 2015. However, it was first reported earlier this week by The Times and The Observer. Now, Facebook, along with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, are both under fire for failing to protect user privacy.
Since the report was published, there has been immense outcry against Facebook for it’s lack of privacy and security. This has prompted the popular #Deletefacebook campaign which has quickly gained steam across multiple social networks. On Twitter, for example, it was one of the most trending hashtags, prompting tweets from celebrities and industry leaders alike.
It is time. #deletefacebook
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) March 20, 2018
Brian Acton, the co-founder of Whatsapp, was one of those industry leaders. Though not a particularly active voice on social media, Brain took to Twitter to cover the Facebook privacy issue. He made it clear that these issues were not to be tolerated. What makes Brian Acton’s tweet even worse is that Facebook acquired Whatsapp for $19 billion back in 2014.
The Facebook Data Breach
This major Facebook scandal all started with a man named Aleksandr Kogan. Kogan, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, came up with a Facebook personality quiz. He used this quiz to not only gather information on the users who downloaded it, but also on the friends of those users as well. How is this possible, you may ask? Well, this is where Facebook comes in. The social media giant originally gave software developers the tools needed to create apps that pull information from entire friend networks. This is how a quiz that was only downloaded a total of 300,000 times was able to collect information on more than 87 million users. When Cambridge Analytica learned of Kogan’s personality quiz, they purchased full access to the information. In turn, the firm used this data to construct detailed voter personality profiles, selling them to the highest bidder.
Once Facebook discovered what Cambridge Analytica had done, they ordered the firm to delete the stolen data. Facebook has since removed the developer tools that allowed for such widespread information gathering. Unfortunately, some third-party apps are still able to collect data in a similar way. Luckily, there is a way you can put a stop to this.
What You Can Do To Protect Your Facebook
If you don’t want to delete your Facebook account, there are a few things you can do to help strengthen your privacy. Fortunately, Facebook allows you to adjust your privacy settings. The first thing you’ll need to do is sign into your Facebook account and navigate to your settings. For those of you who don’t know how to get there, just click the drop-down arrow at the top right of the page, located next to your friend requests and notifications.
Once you’ve found your way into your general settings, you’ll notice a few different categories on the left-hand side. While the “Privacy” tab has a few useful settings, they’re tailored more towards hiding your account from strangers than protecting your information. If you’re looking to protect yourself from another Cambridge Analytica, you’ll want to instead navigate down to the “Apps” tab.
Facebook Privacy Settings
In this section, you’ll notice there are four options to choose from, but let’s address just two of them: “Apps, Websites, and Plugins” and “Apps Others Use. To change these settings, simply click on the edit button below each title.
After clicking the “Apps, Websites, and Plugins” edit button, you will be given the option to disable Facebook integration. This means you will no longer be able to use your Facebook account to sign into any other websites or apps. While this may be an inconvenience, Facebook will no longer be able to track your third-party app and website usage. Though, if you happen to be using your Facebook account to sign into anything else, make sure you change the logins on these accounts before you disable this feature.
Finally, here’s what to do with the “Apps Others Use” setting By checking off any of the above, you’ll be allowing your friend’s apps to gather information on you. This sharing of information is one of the reasons why Kogan’s quiz could gather so much data. As you can see, almost all of the selections are checked off by default. In order to protect yourself from any potential spy apps, we recommend that you remove the check on each selection.
While editing these settings can help protect your information from apps like this personality quiz, it’s impossible to fully prevent Facebook from collecting and using the data you put on the platform. With that in mind, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you keep your Facebook account. If you do decide to keep it however, we urge you to follow these guidelines.
*UPDATE* (4/9/18): How To Find Out If You Were Affected By Cambridge Analytica
Today, Facebook announced a number of changes being made to their social media platform. Just about all of these changes are designed to protect the privacy of Facebook’s users. While not all of these changes will go into effect today, many of them will. The biggest takeaway from today’s announcement however has to do with Cambridge Analytica. In order to address this scandal, Facebook will now restrict apps from accessing private user information.
If you’ve had the chance to log into Facebook today, you may have spotted a new notification towards the top of your newsfeed. After opening this notification, you will be shown one of two messages. The message you receive is based on whether your account has been compromised by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. If your account has not been affected, then you will see the message on the left. However, if your account has been compromised by Cambridge Analytica, you will instead see the message on the right side. So if your message contains the blue “see how you’re affected” button, you can be sure that Cambridge Analytica has your information.
Regardless of whether your account has been “scrapped” by Cambridge Analytica, we urge all Facebook users to review their privacy settings in the wake of this scandal.
What do you think about the latest Facebook scandal? Let us know in the comments.