Advertisement

Facebook will tell you if your data was harvested by Cambridge Analytica

In addition, all Facebook users will now be able to see what information of theirs was shared via apps.

FILE PICTURE:  A protester with the group "Raging Grannies" holds a sign during a demonstration outside of Facebook headquarters on April 5, 2018 in Menlo Park, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FILE PICTURE: A protester with the group "Raging Grannies" holds a sign during a demonstration outside of Facebook headquarters on April 5, 2018 in Menlo Park, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On Monday, the 87 million Facebook users whose data was taken by the data firm Cambridge Analytica will be notified, in the latest step of damage control for Mark Zuckerberg’s beleaguered social media giant.

Facebook will also notify all of its 2.2 billion users about information they’ve shared with apps, and the option to delete the ones they no longer want connected to their account, with a new link on their feed titled “Protecting Your Information.”

Under that section, the 87 million users affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal will see a longer message. “We have banned the website ‘This Is Your Digital Life,’ which one of your friends used Facebook to log into,” the message reads. “We did this because the website you have misused some of your Facebook information by sharing it with a company called Cambridge Analytica.”

‘This Is Your Digital Life’ was an app designed by Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University academic. Cambridge Analytica used Kogan’s app to harvest information on the users and their extended network of Facebook friends. That data was then used to help Cambridge Analytica “microtarget” certain voting groups during the 2016 presidential election.

Advertisement

Facebook initially said that 50 million people were affected by the data harvesting, but then revised the number drastically upwards to 87 million — including at least 70 million Americans and around 1 million in the Philippines, Indonesia, and the U.K.

In wake of the scandal, Zuckerberg admitted he made a “huge mistake” and has instituted a wave of changes. Facebook has stepped up its battle against Russian trolls, revamped its privacy tools, announced that it would make political advertisers verify who they were before posting and said that it supports the Honest Ads Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation which aims to regulate political ads in the same way they are on radio and TV.

On Monday, Facebook announced yet another step — the forming of an independent election research commission to examine the effect that social media can have on electoral politics and democracy.

But despite the stream of privacy changes and election transparency initiatives, it seems more than likely that Zuckerberg will face an extremely tough time on Tuesday and Wednesday when he heads to Capitol Hill to testify in front of lawmakers. This is particularly true since lawmakers were already angry at Facebook before the Cambridge Analytica scandal for their inaction in dealing with Russian interference on their platform.

“If [Zuckerberg] had gone immediately [after the scandal broke] up to Congress it would have been bad, now I think it’s gonna be horrific,” veteran political analyst Charlie Cook said on Sunday. “This poor guy’s gonna be walking into an ambush…It’s gonna be like Custer’s last stand.”

Advertisement

The bad headlines haven’t stopped rolling in for Facebook either. On Sunday, Apple’s co-founder, Steve Wozniak, said that he was leaving the social network over it’s handling of user data. “The profits are all based on the user’s info,” he told USAToday. “But the users get none of the profits back.” Zuckerberg is also for the first time in his tenure starting to face questions about whether he is still the right man to lead Facebook.