Loose Facebook privacy controls allowed Trump-affiliated data-mining company Cambridge Analytica to scrape personal data from an estimated 87 million or more users of the social media service. There are now ways to check if you are among the Facebook users affected by this privacy crisis.
Facebook users whose personal data may have been accessed by Cambridge Analytica should have received a detailed message about the company’s violations on their Facebook newsfeed.
Whether or not you received a direct notice from Facebook, there is another way to see if Cambridge Analytica accessed your personal data. Go to a new help page Facebook set up about the data leak or find Facebook’s Help Center on your computer or phone and search for “Cambridge Analytica.”
You will see an option that says “How can I tell if my information was shared with Cambridge Analytica?” Clicking on that will show you your results.
The information that was leaked stems from a personality quiz created in 2014 by Cambridge neuroscientist Aleksander Kogan called “This is Your Digital Life.” The quiz gave Facebook users the impression that the answers they provided were for academic research, but Kogan supplied the data to Cambridge Analytica, which allegedly used it for politically motivated purposes.
Cambridge Analytica is a British political consulting firm once headed by Trump campaign and White House adviser Steve Bannon. The company uses data to drive conservative political causes, including the election of Donald Trump, as evidence suggests. There’s also evidence indicating Cambridge Analytica used the Facebook data to help steer Britain’s Brexit vote, allowing the UK to leave the European Union.
Kogan paid about 270,000 Facebook users to take the personality quiz. Once installed, the Facebook app gave Cambridge Analytica access to the data of the quiz takers and all of their friends. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company estimates about 87 million people were affected.
Names, phone numbers, mail and email addresses, political and religious affiliations, and other interests are some of the data Cambridge Analytica extracted from the quiz takers and their online friends.
If you never installed the personality quiz but one of your Facebook friends did, Cambridge Analytica likely acquired your data.
Facebook pulled the app in 2015, but by then Cambridge Analytica had successfully obtained the personal information of millions of people in the U.S. and U.K. Whistleblower Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, told NPR News that the company’s military-style information operations have no place in a healthy democracy. He estimates the company’s data grab could be even larger than 87 million.
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and their affiliates now face class-action lawsuits on both sides of the Atlantic.
A lawyer representing plaintiffs in the U.K. told The Guardian that “The defendants effectively abused the human right to privacy of ordinary Facebook users and, if that were not enough, then the fruits of that abuse are alleged to have undermined the democratic process.
“This case will go some way to ensure that neither of these things can happen in the future.”
Beasley Allen attorneys are investigating legal claims against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. To learn more about our class action lawsuit, please call Beasley Allen at 800-898-2034 or contact us online.