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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's CEO also vowed to fight fake news. Pixabay
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  • 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

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Facebook not yet ready with digital payments on Messenger in India

When launched, the new payments feature is set to give a tough competition to Paytm and other digital payment services like Google Tez

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Facebook not ready for online payments. Pixabay

Facebook has no plans as of now to bring digital payment facility to its Messenger application in India, informed sources said on Thursday. “There are currently no tests planned for recharges or peer-to-peer payments on Messenger in India,” the sources told IANS.

Factor Daily had reported that Facebook has begun a beta version of recharge payments for mobile phone and other prepaid services on Messenger. “Mobile recharge option is a Facebook ‘Marketplace’ offering — which is actually going on as a pilot test which is right now available to only Android users in some regions,” the sources added.

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Facebook has many fake profiles. Pixabay

Launched in 2016, Marketplace is a user-to-user exchange platform for buying and selling goods with others within the community. Currently, the peer-to-peer payment service on Messenger is available for its users in the US and the UK.

More than 1.3 billion people around the world are now using Facebook Messenger every month. The growth of Messenger now puts the app at par with Facebook-owned WhatsApp which also has over 1.3 billion monthly active users (MAUs). WhatsApp, however, has rolled out the testing phase of its digital payment feature in India — a first such move globally — which will be officially rolled out to its over 200 million Indian users in the days to come.

Also Read: Facebook introduces new privacy updates for EU users

When launched, the new payments feature is set to give a tough competition to Paytm and other digital payment services like Google Tez. The payments feature would take advantage of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and include support by a number of banks, including the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank. IANS