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FB reveals CA harvested data of up to 87 mn people

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MUMBAI: The Cambridge Analytica (CA) data breach row continues to loom over social media giant Facebook. Revealing a far higher figure of affected users than the estimated 50 million, the company itself confessed that the data of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared. Admitting in a blog post by the company’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, the company provided its plan to restrict data access on the social media platform.

When the controversy first broke out regarding British data analysis firm CA, it was reported that CA illegally obtained data of around 50 million Facebook users. Now, the added 37 million proves the earlier reports were just the tip of the iceberg. The 2016 US Presidential election which saw the landslide victory of Donald Trump has been rife with allegations that CA targeted voters on the back of illegal data. Soon after the first few reports, the fiasco became subject of debate all over the world.

Facebook also shared the number of users likely affected from several countries including India. Indian users constitute 0.6 per cent (562,455) of the total number of affected users and naturally, the US is the highest affected country with 70,632,350 users (81.6 per cent).

“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,” Facebook officially said. CA, however, had licenced data for “no more than 30m people from GSR” and “did not receive more data than this”.

The revelation comes at a time when after seven days Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would make his first appearances before US Congress to answer questions about the recent data misuse. On next Wednesday, Zuckerberg will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to testify at a hearing on data privacy. It is certain he will face strong criticism.

Australia’s privacy commissioner has launched an investigation to determine whether Facebook breached the Australian privacy act after knowing that 300,000 Australians are suspected of their data being breached by Cambridge Analytica.

From restricting app permissions for information like check-ins, likes, photos, posts or a group content to deleting a tool which allows users to search someone with e-mail id or phone number, the company is putting several efforts to restore users’ faith. “We’ve reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages — and will delete all logs older than one year,” Facebook said assuring to review the feature which collects call and text history.

Users are likely to learn from this lesson and be wary about giving away their personal information through public platforms. While data analytics is a necessity for businesses, tech companies also need to put an ethical check to data mining until proper regulations are formed to prevent such mishaps. Besides focusing on the analytic tool, the time has come to strengthen the cybersecurity of the entire ecosystem.

Also Read :

Facebook’s move to limit use of third party data brokers angers advertisers 

Facebook data fiasco gets murkier 

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