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Data of 3mn Facebook Users Were Available to Download Freely For Four Years: Report

"More than 6 million people completed the tests on the myPersonality app and nearly half agreed to share data from their Facebook profiles with the project," said the report.

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New Facebook tool lets journalists scrutinise political ads. Pixabay

A data set of over 3 million Facebook users collected via a personality app was available to download freely for anyone for almost four years, New Scientist reported.

The data set was collected via the personality quiz app “myPersonality” by academics at the University of Cambridge.

“The data was highly sensitive, revealing personal details of Facebook users, such as the results of psychological tests.

“It was meant to be stored and shared anonymously, however such poor precautions were taken that deanonymising would not be hard,” the report said.

The data sets were controlled by David Stillwell and Michal Kosinski at the University of Cambridge.

“More than 6 million people completed the tests on the myPersonality app and nearly half agreed to share data from their Facebook profiles with the project,” said the report.

Alexandr Kogan, at the centre of the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica scandal, was previously part of the project.

“Cambridge Analytica had approached the myPersonality app team in 2013 to get access to the data, but was turned down because of its political ambitions,” the report said.

Facebook last month suspended “myPersonality” from its platform, saying the app may have violated its policies.

A data set of over 3 million Facebook users collected via a personality app was available to download freely for anyone for almost four years, New Scientist reported.
“Cambridge Analytica had approached the myPersonality app team in 2013 to get access to the data, but was turned down because of its political ambitions,” the report said. IANS

The social media giant on Monday said that is auditing each and every app that has access to the data of its users and has already suspended 200 apps which failed to comply with its policies.

The company CEO Mark Zuckerberg had promised a thorough investigation and audit into apps that had access to information before Facebook changed its platform policies in 2014 — significantly reducing the data apps could access.

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“To date, thousands of apps have been investigated and around 200 have been suspended — pending a thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data,” Facebook said.

If Facebook finds evidence that these or other apps did misuse data, it will ban them and notify users via Help Centre on its website.

Appearing before the US Congress in April, Zuckerberg told lawmakers that his own personal data was part of 87 million Facebook users that was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook’s Push to Become China’s WeChat May Kill it

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre

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FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

Facebook which accounts for 75 per cent of global ad spend that is likely to hit $110 billion by 2020 is nowhere near an immediate demise and government regulations would only strengthen the social networking giant in the short term, a new Forrester research has forecast.

However, Facebook’s push to become China’s WeChat — more than a messaging app and is full of capabilities to make life easier for its one billion users — would be its undoing.

Facebook‘s no-good-very-bad 2018 may have meant an overworked PR team but the social media behemoth is doing just fine.

It continues to report steady user and revenue growth: a 9 per cent year over year increase in users in Q4 2018 and a 30 per cent increase in revenue in the same time-frame.

“The three parties that could impact Facebook the most — users, brands and regulators — will move too slowly for it to feel any instant impact,” said Jessica Liu, Senior Analyst, Forrester.

The coming years won’t be easier, but the social media behemoth won’t suddenly collapse either, as many predict.

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FILE – The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

“But while Facebook’s short-term outlook might be fine, its long-term outlook is bleak,” Liu added

Despite constant negative news last year, Facebook continued to report strong quarter-

over-quarter user and revenue growth. Brands that mishandle their own users’ data and fail to inform them typically falter.

While these users and advertisers could affect change at the social media giant immediately, they won’t, thus allowing it to continue to defy the odds.

“Enacting and enforcing regulation takes so long that Facebook will be able to shore up its assets and unique advantages in the short term and eliminate any vulnerabilities before serious user, advertiser, or regulatory changes materialize,” Liu emphasised.

The social networking giant with over two billion users globally, is facing regulatory challenges as the Cambridge Analytica scandal has exposed its lapses of data privacy and security.

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FILE – A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

The downfall for Facebook, said Liu, would come with its desire to build an all-inclusive social media experience, as its CEO mark Zuckerberg is planning to merge all apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram into one.

“Facebook’s hope to recreate WeChat, China’s largest messaging app turned all-in-one portal

to the Internet, presents long-term challenges,” Liu added.

WeChat primarily operates in a single country’s political and regulatory environment.

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“Facebook will need to tack on products and services to fulfill its one-app vision while global regulators threaten antitrust. It will also grapple with protecting user privacy globally while appeasing advertiser appetite for hypertargeting,” Liu noted.

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre.

“History has taught us that existing apps max out and then decline as users tire of the services or the company (like AOL, MySpace, Friendster). The Facebook app is already experiencing this; Instagram and WhatsApp will follow in a natural peak and then eventually decelerate, too,” Liu commented. (IANS)