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Posted: April 04, 2018

Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal affected up to 87M Facebook users, company says

What You Need to Know: Cambridge Analytica

By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

As many as 87 million Facebook users are believed to have had their information inappropriately shared with consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said Wednesday in a blog post.

>> Read more trending news

The number is far above the initial estimate that 50 million users were affected by the data breach.

“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,” Schroepfer said. The company on Wednesday announced several measures aimed at limiting the information available to app developers and clarifying privacy settings to users.

>> Related: Facebook tweaks security settings after privacy fallout

Facebook is facing its worst privacy scandal in years following allegations that Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-affiliated data mining firm, used ill-gotten data from millions of users to try to influence elections.

Staring April 9, Facebook users will see a link at the top of their news feeds showing what apps they use and what information they’ve shared with those apps. Users will be able to remove any apps that they no longer want.

>> Related: Facebook privacy practices under investigation, FTC confirms

“As part of this process we will also tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica,” Schroepfer said.

Facebook is restricting access that apps can get about users' events, as well as information about groups such as member lists and content. In addition, the company is also removing the option to search for users by entering a phone number or an email address. While this helped individuals find friends, Facebook says businesses that had phone or email information on customers were able to collect profile information this way.

>> Related: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before House panel

Earlier Wednesday, Facebook unveiled a new privacy policy that seeks to clarify its data collection and use.

Lawmakers announced Wednesday that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had agreed to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to testify about Facebook’s use and protection of user data. The Federal Trade Commission also confirmed last month that it was investigating the company’s privacy practices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

What You Need to Know: Facebook Data Breach


Related

Here's how to download a copy of the data Facebook keeps on you

Facebook knows a lot about their users, and now there is a way to find out everything the social media platform knows about you

Facebook stores data on everything you do on the social network. That means every single interaction you have since you joined including your friends, your messages, status updates and more

>> Read more trending news 

According to CNBC, you can now download your own archive to see what all they know, and what others can find out with unauthorized access.

Here’s how to download your Facebook archive:

  • Go to Facebook.com/settings
  • Click "Download a copy of your Facebook data."
  • Click "Download Archive."
  • Facebook will alert you when your archive is ready.
  • Click "Download Archive" again, and a zip file will download to your computer.
  • Browse through that archive by opening each file inside the folder.

Once you review the file, you'll find see the entire history of your life on Facebook.

You don’t have to #DeleteFacebook: 7 tips to lock down your privacy without leaving 

Facebook is under fire following this week’s revelation that data company Cambridge Analytica acquired data from millions of Facebook users without their knowledge. The news prompted a #DeleteFacebook social media campaign urging users to say goodbye to the platform once and for all.

>> Read more trending news 

But leaving Facebook isn’t that simple. Luckily, you don’t have to delete the platform altogether to ensure your data is safe.

>> Related: Breaking up with Facebook? It's harder than it looks

Here are seven tips to lock down your privacy without leaving social media entirely:

Download your Facebook data to see exactly what they know about you.

If you’re concerned about the information you have out there, Facebook allows users to download a copy of their own data, including archived posts, messages and advertisements you’ve clicked on, according to Digital Trends.

How: General Account Settings --> Download a copy of your Facebook data --> Start My Archive.

>> Related: Facebook crisis-management lesson: What not to do

Check the third-party apps connected to your account.

Under General Account Settings, click on the Apps page to see a list of apps you’ve connected to your Facebook account. If you see an app you’re wary of, hover over it and delete it immediately.

Opt out of Facebook API sharing altogether.

On the same page as the Apps, scroll down until you see Apps, Websites and Plugins. Hit Edit to Disable Platform. This will sign you out of all websites, apps and other services connected to your Facebook account.

>> Related: Academic says he's being scapegoated in Facebook data case

Log out of Facebook when you’re not using it.

It’s a simple rule, but how often do you actually log out? According to Tom’s Guide, if you leave your Facebook logged in on your computer, it can still track your movements and share your information with advertisers and other parties.

Adjust your ad settings or delete interests to prevent ad targeting.

Under General Account Settings, scroll down to the Ads page and click on Your Interests. On this page, Facebook uses the selection of interests across a variety of categories, including entertainment, news, hobbies and more to determine what ads you’ll see. You can hover over a selection to delete an interest, or, you can scroll down to Ad Settings.

Under Ad Settings, you have the option of adjusting:

- Ads based on your use of websites and apps (Can you see online interest-based ads from Facebook?)

>> Related: Did you fall for these fake ads? How Russian trolls got into your Facebook feeds

- Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies (Can your Facebook ad preferences be used to show you ads on devices such as computers, mobile devices and connected TVs?)

- Ads with your social actions (Who can see your social actions paired with ads?)

Limit who can see your posts, friends list and more under privacy settings.

Under General Account Settings, click Privacy. There, you can limit who sees your future posts, your friends list or who can look you up using the email used on Facebook. You can also click on Timeline and Tagging Settings to adjust preferences for who can post on your timeline, see what posts are on your timeline and more.

Turn off location services.

>> Related: Facebook can now find you in photos you’re not tagged in

Turn off location data to limit Facebook’s access and ensure your own physical safety. You can do so by going to General Account Settings --> Location. Check your location services preferences on your smartphone as well.

Facebook breach: Want to leave the social media giant? Here’s how

Officials with Facebook has been notified that the company will receive a letter from the Federal Trade Commission asking how the consultancy firm of Cambridge Analytica gained access to the personal data of 50 million of its users. 

FTC officials informed Facebook that they will be asking both how the firm gained access to the data in 2014, and why users were not notified by Facebook about the breach, according to a story from Bloomberg. 

Cambridge Analytica is a political consultancy firm. It was the firm President Donald Trump’s campaign hired to help with the 2016 election. 

If the thought of having your personal information at risk keeps you up at night, there is something you can do about it. 

>> Read more trending news

You can delete your account. 

Here is how you do that: 

To delete a Facebook account  

Click on the link below, and choose "Delete my account":

Delete my Facebook page 

That’s all you have to do, and your account is deleted from Facebook. There are a few things to keep in mind, however – Facebook delays deleting the account for a few days in case people change their minds, for example. 

Once an account is deleted, it can take a month and a half before all of the information and photos associated with the account are deleted from the backup server, and you cannot gain access to that content after you delete the account. 

Also, according to company officials, material such as records of when you were on the site will remain in its database, but will not be connected to any “personal identifiers.”  

If you want a copy of what’s in your account before you delete it 

You can save the photos and messages on your account before you delete it by going through the following steps on Facebook:

  • Go to the account menu
  • Click the down arrow at the top right of any Facebook page 
  • Click "Download a copy of your Facebook data" at the bottom of the General Account Settings
  • Click "Start My Archive"

Remember, deactivating the account is different from deleting the account. If you choose to deactivate the account to take some time away from social media, you can always go back and reactive the account. 

Deleting the account means ending it so neither you nor others will be able to see it again.

 

BBB warns about popular Facebook quizzes

Every few months, even weeks, you see them pop up on your social media pages. The Facebook posts say something like “Take this quiz and we’ll tell you all about yourself.”

But what personal information are you willingly giving out and can it be used against you later?

The Better Business Bureau in Eastern Idaho told KMVT that you may want to think twice before doing one of the quizzes.

>> Read more trending news 

“We just advise people to be really careful because sometimes the link on those can lead you to scammers that are trying to pick information out,” Jeremy Johnson told KMVT.

What are scammers looking for then? They’re trying to get users to willingly give away private information that makes you, you. Information like a birthday, your name and even addresses.

“Once they get that information they can really use that to damage. They can open accounts in your name, go into your bank account, access more information and as we all know that can be very detrimental,” Johnson told KMVT.

“I don’t know if people realize what they’re giving up here,” Russ Sabella, a social media expert who teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Meyers, Florida, told WBBH.

“I don’t know if people realize what they’re giving up here. Some people will say I have nothing to hide. That may be true, but at the same time, do you realize that what you’re giving up is going to be connected to other data from other websites and other apps and put together could be a picture of you that you would rather not be in someone else’s hands?” Sabella said.

So how can you protect yourself, other than an outright personal ban on the quizzes?

WBBH reported that Sabella suggests first read the terms and conditions. Second, use an email that has no other purpose than for quizzes so scammers don’t have access to your contact list and can’t create a profile of you. Also, Sabella says, use social networks’ security checks and guidelines every few months so you know how much personal information is shared.

Finally, if you’re being taken off-site, that could be a red flag that it’s not a legitimate quiz, KMVT reported.

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