How to check if your Facebook data was shared with Cambridge Analytica
Facebook has published a support page designed to inform users whether or not their personal data was likely to have been shared with Cambridge Analytica, the firm that was recently found misusing information it collected from the social media platform.
The page, which can be found here, checks whether your profile gave data sharing privileges to an app called This is Your Digital Life, which Cambridge Analytica used in 2015 to collect information — including liked pages and biographical data — from as many as 87 million Facebook users.
It used this data to feed tools it claimed could identify the personalities of American voters and influence them to vote for Donald Trump, although of the profiles affected there are over a million each in the Philippines, Indonesia and the UK, and up to 311,000 in Australia.
Although only 270,000 people are believed to have used the app, Cambridge Analytica was able to collect such a huge amount of data because, at the time, Facebook allowed developers to ask permission to collect data about users' friends. That means if someone you're friends with on Facebook signed in and used the This is Your Digital Life app, your data could have been shared with Cambridge Analytica without your knowledge. The firm has said it collected the data of 30 million users — or almost 100 times the number of people that actually, perhaps inadvertently, gave their consent — while Facebook says that number is potentially as high as 87 million.
The new support page also checks if any of your friends used the app. Facebook made a change in 2015 that greatly limited the data firms could collect from apps like this, including removing the ability for users to give permission for collection of their friends' data.
When The New York Times initially reported on the scandal, Facebook claimed that Cambridge Analytica's collection of data was within its policies and was what users had signed up for. However, it said the feeding of the data into a separate system for the purposes of advertising was against is terms of service and a "misuse" of the data.
The social network, and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has more recently admitted to not doing enough to prevent data misuse, and has committed to clearer privacy policies and more tightly controlled data sharing.
Zuckerberg is currently appearing at a hearing before the US Congress, during which he has apologised for the company's role in Cambridge Analytica's data use, as well as the proliferation of fake news, hate speech and Russian social media interference in the 2016 US elections.