In the last couple of days, Facebook’s market value has dropped by over $65 billion. All of this is happening because Facebook supposedly allowed Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company from Britain, to use the personal data of around 50 million people. At the same time, Cambridge Analytica have been linked with Trump and helping him win the presidential elections.
This scandal of using private information has shaken Facebook to its core when a data scientists from Cambridge University, an academic named Chris Wylie became a “whistleblower” and talked to the public about Facebook and how they treat the private information of their users very poorly.
Wylie revealed information about Cambridge Analytica creating a tool that can predict how people will vote by analyzing their personal information and behavior online, and giving this information to political parties which they use for advertising to the right voters with the right messages.
How they got the personal information of over 50 million people
It all began 4 years ago when Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge psychologist contacted Michal Kosinski, a researcher, to acquire Facebook data. Michal had data he was gathering using an online quiz app which required users to log in through their Facebook in order to use it.
Although Kosinski wouldn’t give any information, he agreed to create another quiz for Cambridge that would be used for gathering data of Facebook users, including the information of all the pages the people liked. This app had a huge success and over 270,000 people used it. At the same time, it also collected a lot of information about participants’ friends on Facebook.
Given that an average Facebook user has a lot of friends on their profile, Kogan was able to gather information on over 50 million people. He later used this personal information for ad creation and targeting.
There are more similar apps taking people’s information
The quiz app of Cambridge Analytica is sadly just one of the thousand similar apps that most Facebook users have encountered online. For example apps like “what you will look like old” and similar apps. They all have the same model and pattern on which they work.
All of these Facebook apps can be accessed through a Facebook account and all of them ask users to give information to the developer about their name, location, profile, friends list etc. Even those apps that say that they don’t need your information require users to log in through their profiles, at which point the app verifies their information and identity.
This is why it’s a good idea for all users to revisit the apps to which they’ve granted permission to access their information and revoke them completely, because chances are that some of them still might be using your data, and you can stop this by revoking them completely and disallowing permission.
How to disable data access to Facebook apps
For desktop computers, log in to your Facebook account and click on the arrow located in the upper right corner. Then click on “Settings and Apps” and you will get a list of all the apps that you’ve logged in to through your Facebook profile.
If you are on a mobile device find the menu button located in the top right corner for Android devices and in the bottom right corner for iOS devices, go to settings, account settings, apps and then look for apps which you’ve logged in to trough Facebook.
To revoke an app completely and make sure that your profile is in no way related to it, click on the cross icon which is located next to it and it will remove it from your app list. It is also possible to change permissions for aps by clicking on the pencil icon, which is the edit button. Here you can see permissions and settings of apps and edit them the way you see fit.
Even though Mark Zuckerberg has made an official apology and promised to make changes on Facebook, while promising higher regulation of tech companies operating on Facebook, chances are that Facebook will face a full blown investigation. Governments across the world have expressed their concerns with this scandal and a lot of them have already promised investigating Facebook in their countries.