Unless you have been living under a rock since the beginning of the year, chances are you will have heard of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how it gained the Facebook data of potentially up to 87 million people.
If you’re sat scratching your head right now wondering if you were one of the many who had their data harvested, we’re here to give you the low down…
Cambridge Analytica are a political consulting firm which combines data mining and data analysis with strategic communication for the electoral process. Data drives all they do and they use that data to change audience behaviour through online marketing and online political campaigns.
Back in 2015, hundreds of thousands of Facebook users were paid a small fee to take a personality test through a Facebook application and consented to have their data collected. However, the app also gathered the information of the participants’ friends and families who were connected to them via Facebook, which allowed for the collection of data from tens of millions of unaware users.
The data was collected through an app called thisisyourdigitallife, built by Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan through his company Global Science Research in collaboration with Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook first discovered the data had been misused at the end of 2015. At the time Facebook asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the data and revoked the app creators access to the Facebook API. However last month there was information leaked that Cambridge Analytica had not deleted the data.
Aleksandr Kogan used the app to extract the information of more than 50 million people, and transferred it to Cambridge Analytica to devise political campaigns, including the rise of Donald Trump and the ‘right’ result for the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum.
If you’re wondering how Facebook could be using your data through third-party apps like the one at the route of this scandal just take a look at your settings in Facebook, and click on Apps and Websites on the left-hand side to see which you are providing access to.