If you’ve been following the news recently, you may have been surprised to discover that a data analysis company managed to scrape up information on some 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge. While this is not the first time Facebook has offered entities access to its data, the controversy in recent news deals with exactly how a consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, obtained the data from Facebook.
A CNBC report says that Cambridge Analytica legally purchased the data from Aleksandr Kogan and his company, Global Science Research, which gathered the data through a Facebook app and a psychological test taken by Facebook users.
Curiously, however, they didn’t need to get 50 million people to click on a link in order to obtain their data; instead, they accomplished this by persuading just 270,000 users to add an app, called thisisyourdigitallife, to their Facebook page. The app offered a number of personality quizzes; you know the kind, you see them on Facebook all the time.
Those who downloaded the app voluntarily handed over vast amounts of personal data about what they like, where they live, and in some cases, depending on an individuals Facebook privacy settings, who their friends were. The data analysis firm used this data to create “psychographic profiles,” or descriptions of people according to their personality types. They had enough data to create full profiles of 30 million people.
And you might be one of them.
How did they get the data without the knowledge of users? Quite simply, a default Facebook setting allowed the entity to access to this information. For this reason, every Facebook user needs to know how to change these settings to prevent Facebook apps from accessing your profile information.
Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.