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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

India Second to US in Demanding Facebook User Data, Requests Up by 37%

Globally, in the first half of 2019, government requests for user data increased by 16 per cent from 110,634 to 128,617

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The US government sent Facebook total 50,741 requests about users' data in the same period. Pixabay

The Indian government was second to the US in requesting Facebook for access to users’ data in the first six months of this year — an increase of nearly 37 per cent from the second half (July-December period) last year.India

The Indian government sent Facebook 22,684 queries about users in the above mentioned period and the social networking giant provided data in 54 per cent of the request, according to Facebook’s Transparency Report.

The US government sent Facebook total 50,741 requests about users’ data in the same period.

Globally, in the first half of 2019, government requests for user data increased by 16 per cent from 110,634 to 128,617.

India, US, Facebook
The Indian government sent Facebook 22,684 queries about users in the above mentioned period and the social networking giant provided data in 54 per cent of the request, according to Facebook’s Transparency Report. Pixabay

“Of the total volume, the US continues to submit the largest number of requests, followed by India, the UK, Germany and France,” said Chris Sonderby, VP & Deputy General Counsel, said in a statement on Thursday.

In the US, Facebook received 50,741 requests, representing an increase of 23 per cent more requests than last half, which is consistent with trends over time.

“We always scrutinise every government request we receive for account data to make sure it is legally valid. This is true no matter which government makes the request.

“If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary. We do not provide governments with a back doors’ to people’s information,” said Sonderby.

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During the reporting period, the volume of content restrictions based on local law decreased globally by 50 per cent from 35,972 to 17,807.

“This decrease follows an unusual spike last half in which we restricted 16,600 items in India based on a Delhi High Court order. Of the total volume, 58 per cent of restrictions originated from Pakistan and Mexico,” said Facebook.

The company also identified 67 disruptions of Facebook services in 15 countries, compared to 53 disruptions in nine countries in the second half of 2018.

“During this reporting period, we took down 3,234,393 pieces of content based on 568,836 copyright reports, 255,222 pieces of content based on 96,501 trademark reports and 821,727 pieces of content based on 101,582 counterfeit reports,” informed Facebook. (IANS)