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Facebook announces 200 more Cambridge Analyticas

On March 21, in response to the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, Facebook said it would inve
May 14 · Issue #136 · View online
The Interface
On March 21, in response to the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, Facebook said it would investigate the thousands of apps that had similar data access and announce its findings publicly when it could. Today Ime Archibong announced it had suspended 200 more suspicious applications.
To date thousands of apps have been investigated and around 200 have been suspended — pending a thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data. Where we find evidence that these or other apps did misuse data, we will ban them and notify people via this website. It will show people if they or their friends installed an app that misused data before 2015 — just as we did for Cambridge Analytica.
The blog post was tantalizing, if unsatisfying. Archibong did not disclose any of the apps in question, or give any sense of the nature — or scale — of their data misuse.
What his post did do was make concrete something Facebook executives said last month: that potentially every Facebook user had their personal data scraped at some point over the past few years.
So when will we know more? Here’s Natasha Lomas in TechCrunch:
Facebook spokeswoman told us the company intends to provide more details about any apps it decides to ban after concluding each case-by-case investigation. Although she also said the company has not yet decided how it will share information about these apps. So it’s not clear whether or not it will provide a public list of apps it bans for misusing user data — or whether banned apps will only be visible to logged in users whose personal data was specifically misused.
In the meantime, we can tell you about at least one app that made it trivially easy to obtain user data. It’s called myPersonality, and before Facebook shut it down on April 7, stored records about 3 million users that were accessible via a username and password found easily via a web search. The data sets were controlled by David Stillwell and Michal Kosinski at the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre, and Cambridge Analytica bogeyman Alexandr Kogan used to be part of the project, report Phee Waterfield and Timothy Revell:
More than 6 million people completed the tests on the myPersonality app and nearly half agreed to share data from their Facebook profiles with the project. All of this data was then scooped up and the names removed before it was put on a website to share with other researchers. The terms allow the myPersonality team to use and distribute the data “in an anonymous manner such that the information cannot be traced back to the individual user”.
To get access to the full data set people had to register as a collaborator to the project. More than 280 people from nearly 150 institutions did this, including researchers at universities and at companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
If you’re asking what employees at Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo were doing with all this data — well, you’re not the only one.
On one hand, it can feel like the Cambridge Analytica scandal is over. Facebook’s stock price has fully recovered from the event, and the service does not appear to have seen a meaningful decline in users. The company has already said that every user might be affected, limiting the shock value of any new headlines related to a privacy breach.
Still, there are bound to be a world of unsavory stories bound up in those 200 apps that were just suspended. And there’s no telling how many more apps will be discovered to have misused data before Facebook’s investigation reaches its conclusion.

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