Tag: Cambridge Analytica

By Alex Hern for The Guardian 

Facebook has started the process of notifying the approximately 87 million users whose data was harvested by the election consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The social network eventually hopes to inform every user who was affected with a warning at the top of their Facebook news feed. For now, however, individuals can check by going to a new help page on the site or searching for “How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?” in Facebook’s help centre.

Most users will see a message saying that “neither you nor your friends logged into ‘This Is Your Digital Life’”, the personality quiz that Cambridge Analytica used to gather its data.

Around 87 million individuals, including more than 1 million people in the UK, will receive a different response saying “a friend of yours did log in”.

That means that their public profile, page likes, birthday and current city were likely shared with the company, as well as potentially the contents of their news feed at the time.

Around 300,000 people – including 53 people in Australia, 10 people in New Zealand, and an unknown number of users in the UK – will receive a message informing them that they installed the This Is Your Digital Life app.

This means they almost certainly handed over the personal information of all their Facebook friends at the time, as well as formed part of the core group for the psychometric profiling that Cambridge Analytica carried out during the US election campaign.

Facebook has promised widespread changes to its platform to prevent further “abuse” of the sort it attributes to Cambridge Analytica. “These actions would prevent any app like [This Is Your Digital Life] from being able to access so much data today,” the company said in March.

What does Facebook know about you?

Source: By Andrew Griffin for The Independent 

As attention turns to Facebook’s use of data, many of its users are wondering how they can avoid being manipulated by the site.

Some are urging users to boycott the site entirely. Those voices include the co-creator of WhatsApp, who sold the app to Facebook for billions but has since called for people to delete it.

Others, however, say that they can’t leave Facebook, since they need it for talking to people or keeping up with their communities. It might not even be possible to really leave, anyway – the internet expects you to keep using Facebook, and the site is able to learn about people’s data even if they’ve never actually used it.

The site does, however, give people relatively easy ways to find out what data is being collected and how. And if they object to that, they can either delete their account or deactivate it, both of which do go some way towards stopping the site learning more about you.

Everything you do on Facebook generates data of some kind. That might be the obvious, explicit ways, like the information people add to their profile about themselves – but it could be much more subtle things, like how long you spend watching a certain video.

Sometimes, the site and developers using it will use quizzes or mini games to make the experience of giving up data more fun. When they’re opened, they don’t only get access to the answers you give, but also request access to people’s data.

In the case of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook says data collected via a quiz app called ThisIsYourDigitalLife, billed as a personality predictor, was passed to the data firm in violation of its terms.

Where can I find details about what apps I’ve given access to?

Visit Facebook’s settings page or, on the desktop site, settings is located on the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the blue header bar.

Click on the apps tab on the left-hand side of the screen to see all the apps you’ve okayed.

Users can see what info is shared with any app, and there are options to delete, limit the information each app can access and remove info collected by the app.

Deleting an app may still allow the developer to retain some of a user’s personal information.

How do my friends impact on apps?

In “Apps Others Use”, Facebook sets out how apps which other people use can read your data. This feature revolves around the social part of Facebook – it’s the tech which means you might be flagged as a fellow reader of a certain book, a brand devotee, or someone who also plays a game.

Click edit and 13 categories are listed, including bio, timeline posts and online status. Any combination can be toggled on and off.

What is Facebook Platform?

If you want to go a step further you can turn off Platform – this is the system which among other things allows you to comment on or log into other websites using your Facebook details.

By turning it off, you lose some functionality but it means your information is not automatically shared as you surf the web.

How to see your Facebook data
In the general section of the settings is an option “download a copy of your Facebook data”. Click on it and Facebook will email you when it’s ready to download.

Facebook says most of this data is already available in your account and activity log, but it also includes information on ads you have clicked on and the IP addresses you’ve used.

It will also reveal email addresses previously associated with your account, topics of ads which may be targeted to you and the metadata contained in photos uploaded to Facebook.

How do I deactivate or delete my account?

Facebook talks people through both deactivating and deleting their account in Settings General Manage Your Account.

Deactivating allows you to log back in in the future and have your Facebook profile completely restored. While deactive, people won’t be able to search for you or see your page, but the info is retained.

To permanently delete your Facebook account, visit the account deletion page to start the process. It may take up to 90 days to delete all the things you’ve posted, says Facebook.

Source: By Andrew Griffin for The Independent 

Facebook has made its data crisis worse

Facebook Inc tried to get ahead of its latest media firestorm. Instead, it helped create one.

The company knew ahead of time that on Saturday, the New York Times and The Guardian’s Observer would issue bombshell reports that the data firm that helped Donald Trump win the presidency had accessed and retained information on 50-million Facebook users without their permission.

Facebook did two things to protect itself: it sent letters to the media firms laying out its legal case for why this data leak didn’t constitute a “breach.” And then it scooped the reports using their information, with a Friday blog post on why it was suspending the ad firm, Cambridge Analytica, from its site.

Both moves backfired.

On March 16, Facebook said it “received reports” that Cambridge Analytica hadn’t deleted the user data, and that it needed to suspend the firm. The statement gave the impression that Facebook had looked into the matter. In fact, the company’s decisions were stemming from information in the news reports set to publish the next day, and it had not independently verified those reports, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. By trying to look proactive, Facebook ended up adding weight to the news.

On March 17, any goodwill the company earned by talking about the problem first was quickly undone when reporters revealed Facebook’s behind-the-scenes legal manoeuvring. “Yesterday Facebook threatened to sue us. Today we publish this,” Carole Cadwalladr, the Observer reporter, wrote as she linked her story to Twitter, in a post shared almost 15,000 times. The Guardian said it had nothing to add to her statement. The Times confirmed that it too received a letter, but said it didn’t consider the correspondence a legal threat.

Front-running the stories along with the letters to newsrooms are but two of several ways Facebook failed to contain fallout from the Cambridge Analytica revelations. Silence on the part of chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg didn’t help. Nor did a report late March 19 in the New York Times that chief security officer Alex Stamos is leaving after clashing with other executives, including Sandberg, over how Facebook handled Russian disinformation campaigns. Facebook said Stamos is still at the company, but didn’t outright deny that he plans to leave.

“Most of its executives haven’t done a real interview in ages, let alone answer deep questions,” Zeynep Tufecki, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who specialises in social networks and democracy, wrote in a post on Twitter.

In a sign of investor dismay, Facebook shares tumbled 6.8% on March 19, the biggest decline since March 2014. As the stock fell and criticism from lawmakers poured in from the US and Britain, the company worked to make it clear that it didn’t actually have enough information, on its own, to react to Saturday’s news reports in a stronger way.

Facebook put out another blog post, saying that Cambridge Analytica and the researcher who provided them the data, Aleksandr Kogan, had agreed to a digital forensics audit to prove they deleted it. Facebook said the one person who didn’t agree to the audit was Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica contractor who spoke to the newspapers about the data leak. With the post, Facebook aimed to stir more scepticism around Wylie’s information, according to a person familiar with the matter.

That didn’t resolve things quickly either. The auditors were already on site at Cambridge Analytica’s London office March 19 when they had to pause their work. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation.

The Cambridge Analytica saga is the latest in a series of bungled Facebook responses, often reactionary and sometimes unintentionally stirring public outrage instead of resolving concerns. The company’s interaction with the public tends to start with a carefully crafted blog post, and then evolve into a much more improvised Twitter-based conversation with lower-level executives who defend the social network and explain its decisions. It doesn’t always go well.

Earlier this year, when the US government indicted 13 Russians who used Facebook to manipulate voters, a Facebook advertising executive took to Twitter to clarify that overall, the Russian ads were primarily used to divide Americans, not influence the election. His comments went viral after President Donald Trump used them to back up attacks on the “fake news media.”

In 2017, Facebook made its disclosures on Russia’s activities in a slow drip, each time illustrating a bigger problem. An April white paper on “information operations,” for example, didn’t name the country. The company that October said 10 million users saw Russia’s ads. Later that month, Facebook said 126 million people saw Russia’s posts in general. The company upped the number to 150 million during Congressional interrogation, when a senator asked if Facebook could include Instagram, the photo-sharing app it owns, in the count.

Stamos, who has favoured more forthright disclosure, was frequently outvoted, according to the New York Times. He’s planning to leave the company in August, the newspaper reported. On Twitter, he later said he’s still fully engaged with his work at Facebook, without answering questions about his plans. But that would make him the most high-profile exit since Facebook’s election-related troubles began.

Meanwhile, higher ranking executives remain quiet. Zuckerberg and Sandberg, who in past years would post frequently about the issues of the day, have shied away from reacting to the most controversial news. Lawmakers have now called out Zuckerberg by name in both the US and the UK.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg plan to remain quiet on the Cambridge Analytica situation until the company completes its internal review of what happened, according to a person familiar with the matter. Until they do, questions about Facebook’s ability to cope with the Cambridge Analytica crisis will undoubtedly persist. — Bloomberg

By Sarah Frier for The Star
Image: 123rf

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