Report: yet another Facebook app leaked personal info of 3m people

cambridge analytica facebook memeburn stock image 3

Are you still taking personality tests on Facebook? Stop. Actually, throw your computer out the window and set it on fire, because you should really know better.

After Cambridge Analytica’s data reaping antics were exposed in March and Facebook shamed, you may have thought that your information was safe on the internet. But it’s not.

According to a new report by New Scientist, at least three million users have had “intimate” data about themselves, and their psychological state, shared online.

According to the report, some six million people completed a questionnaire app dubbed myPersonality. Half offered to share the information with the app’s creators. The information shared was promised to be distributed anonymously, ensuring that specific sets could not be linked to individuals.

In addition to sharing links with Cambridge Analytica researcher Alexandr Kogan, the app itself was authored by the University of Cambridge. The resultant information was then distributed to researchers “via a website with insufficient security provisions”.

How insufficient, you ask? New Scientist found the login credentials for the website on Github — an open platform for sharing strings of text and code.

More than 280 researchers from universities and companies from Microsoft, Google and — coming full circle again — Facebook itself, reportedly had access to the information.

The app was snuffed out in early April by Facebook, but it’s clear that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was right: it’s extremely likely that Cambridge Analytica isn’t the only app harvesting data from users on Facebook.

It’s by no means on the scale of Cambridge Analytica, but it does point to a clear problem of data misuse on Facebook. (As if that wasn’t clear before.)

The social network on Monday announced that more than 200 apps have been suspended during its complete app audit, but that number’s likely to grow.

What should you do in the meantime though? Stop taking personality questionnaires online, perhaps? That’s a good place to start.

Read the New Scientist’s full report here.

Feature image: Memeburn

Andy Walker, former editor


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