A decade of apparent indifference for data privacy at Facebook has culminated in revelations that organizations harvested user data for targeted advertising, particularly political advertising, to apparent success. While the most well-known offender is Cambridge Analytica--the political consulting and strategic communication firm behind the pro-Brexit Leave EU campaign, as well as Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign--other companies have likely used similar tactics to collect personal data of Facebook users.
TechRepublic’s cheat sheet about the Facebook data privacy scandal covers the ongoing controversy surrounding the illicit use of profile information. This article will be updated as more information about this developing story comes to the forefront.
From the cheat sheet:
WHAT IS THE FACEBOOK DATA PRIVACY SCANDAL?
The Facebook data privacy scandal centers around the collection of personally identifiable information of “up to 87 million people” by the political consulting and strategic communication firm Cambridge Analytica. That company--and others--were able to gain access to personal data of Facebook users due to the confluence of a variety of factors, broadly including inadequate safeguards against companies engaging in data harvesting, little to no oversight of developers by Facebook, developer abuse of the Facebook API, and users agreeing to overly broad terms and conditions.
In the case of Cambridge Analytica, the company was able to harvest personally identifiable information through a personality quiz app called thisisyourdigitiallife, based on the OCEAN personality model. Information gathered via this app is useful in building a “psychographic” profile of users (the OCEAN acronym stands for openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism). Adding the app to your Facebook account to take the quiz gives the creator of the app access to profile information and user history for the user taking the quiz, as well as all of the friends that user has on Facebook. This data includes all of the items that users and their friends have liked on Facebook.