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Over 5 lakh Indian users’ data shared with Cambridge Analytica: Facebook

In a blog post, Mike Schroepfer, Chief Technology Officer at Facebook, showed country-specific break-up of people affected by the data breach

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Facebook is working on launching Athena, its own Internet satellite, early in 2019, the WIRED reported. Pixabay
  • It is revealed that Indian users’ data was also leaked
  • The users amount to nearly 5.6 lakhs
  • These users data is now with Cambridge Analytica

In a first such revelation, Facebook has admitted that data of nearly 5.6 lakh Indian users may have been “improperly” shared with British political analytics company Cambridge Analytica.

In a blog post, Mike Schroepfer, Chief Technology Officer at Facebook, showed country-specific break-up of people affected by the data breach. While most users are from the US — over 70 million — 562,455 Indian users’ data has also been shared with Cambridge Analytica.

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Facebook was accused of leaking data to Cambridge Analytica.

“In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people – mostly in the US – may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica,” Schroepfer wrote. “Starting on Monday, April 9, we’ll show people a link at the top of their News Feed so they can see what apps they use – and the information they have shared with those apps,” he added. People will also be able to remove apps that they no longer want.

“As part of this process, we will also tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica,” Schroepfer posted. In a press conference late on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook has a big responsibility when it comes to tackle fake news on its platform this year as several countries are facing general elections.

“This year is going to be an important year for protecting election integrity around the world. There’s the Mexican presidential election, there are big elections in India and Brazil, as well as Pakistan and Hungary and a number of other countries, and the US midterms, of course, too,” he said. Facebook now has about 15,000 people working on security and content review, and “we’ll have more than 20,000 by the end of this year.” Facebook is also enhancing its security features to ensure the integrity of upcoming key elections in countries like India on its platform.

This comes days after Christopher Wylie, who blew the lid off the Facebook user personal data being illegally used for political purposes, disclosed how his former employer Cambridge Analytica through an Indian arm had conducted election research on behalf of some political parties. Wylie in a widely shared tweet said SCL Group, the parent organisation of Cambridge Analytica, has its office headquartered in Indirapuram in Ghaziabad and its regional offices in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cuttack, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kolkata, Patna and Pune.

Also Read: Facebook users’ data still out in the wild: Report

“I’ve been getting a lot of requests from Indian journalists. So here are some of SCL’s past projects in India. To the most frequently asked question – yes, SCL/CA works in India and has offices there. This is what modern colonialism looks like,” Wylie said. The SCL India, according to the tweeted document, helped clients to identify and target key groups within the population “to effectively influence their behaviour to realize a desired outcome”. It explained that SCL provided its clients the research to develop and “disseminate the right messages from the right sources using the right communication channels”.

It said in 2011, SCL India undertook a state-wide research campaign to identify voter caste by household. “This booth level polling data formed the basis of further research into swing voter motivation and supporter mobilization strategies which were presented to individual candidates and tailored to their constituencies.”

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Facebook reveals this recently VOA

During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, SCL India managed the campaign of a number of Lok Sabha candidates. “The research and campaign teams employed SCL India’s proprietary data collection methodologies to form strategies that gave the clients successful election campaigns.”

Wylie, 28, was the Director of Research at Cambridge Analytica. He accused the data analytics firm having influenced the result of the United Kingdom’s 2016 Brexit referendum and of the 2016 American presidential election that brought Donald Trump to the White House. Speaking to the British MPs, Wylie said Cambridge Analytica worked extensively in India. IANS

Next Story

Mass Shooting in New Zealand: Facebook Still Working to Remove All Videos

The attack came during Friday prayers when the Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Mosque were filled with hundreds of worshippers. The victims of Friday's shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square, In this March 29, 2018. VOA

Facebook is continuing to work to remove all video of the mass shooting in New Zealand which the perpetrator livestreamed Friday, the company said Sunday.

“We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues,” Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand said in a statement Sunday.

Garlick said that the company is currently working to remove even edited versions of the original video which do not contain graphic content, “Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities.”

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Facebook’s most recent comments follow criticism of the platform after the shooter not only livestreamed the 17 graphic minutes of his rampage, using a camera mounted on his helmet, but also had posted a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Facebook. Pixabay

In the 24 hours following the mass shooting, which left 50 people dead, Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of the attack, of which 1.2 million were blocked at upload, the company said.

Facebook’s most recent comments follow criticism of the platform after the shooter not only livestreamed the 17 graphic minutes of his rampage, using a camera mounted on his helmet, but also had posted a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Facebook.

Earlier Sunday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that there were “further questions to be answered” by Facebook and other social media platforms.

FILE - New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks on live television following fatal shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks on live television following fatal shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. VOA

“We did as much as we could to remove or seek to have removed some of the footage that was being circulated in the aftermath of this terrorist attack. Ultimately, though, it has been up to those platforms to facilitate their removal and support their removal,” she said.

The attack came during Friday prayers when the Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Mosque were filled with hundreds of worshippers. The victims of Friday’s shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia. (VOA)