On March 17, 2018, we discovered that up to 50 million Facebook profiles had been accessed and harvested for #CambridgeAnalytica. The number was later revised to 87 million users. Then, finally, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg admitted that it likely that “most” of its 2.1 billion user profiles had been compromised. It is important for you to check if your Facebook data was shared. Additionally, you should check if you are still sharing your data via other apps.
It is an extremely serious situation, but do not worry; read on to learn how to protect yourself and maximise your data security while still enjoying Facebook.
In light of the unavoidable media reports, now is the time to ensure your data is as protected as possible, to check how much you are still giving away, and to who or where it is being sent.
Facebook have added a new help page that allows you to check if your data has been confirmed as leaked to Cambridge Analytica specifically. Note that this is based on Facebook’s records, and only relating to the one specific app – “This Is Your Digital Life” – that is at the heart of the current scandal.
It is important to understand that the data leak was allowed by Facebook’s own policies and handling of data; the platform itself is considered to be very much at fault for the scandal.
Check if your Facebook data was shared
Simply sign into Facebook, then click here to be taken directly to the Help Centre page which shows specifically if your information was shared. This page only confirms if your data was shared by the one app specifically – but it is a good first step on your path to improved information security, or #InfoSec.
Hopefully, you will be informed that neither you nor your friends used the app in question (“This Is Your Digital Life”). Facebook will tell you that “it doesn’t appear that your information was shared”. Not particularly reassuring, but it’s a start. It is also possible that you will be informed that you personally used the app, or perhaps a friend did, and what information was shared in relation to those situations.
Check if your Facebook data is still being shared
On the same page, and directly underneath the section informing you if your data was shared in the current scandal, there is a link to another help page where you can check how much of your data you are still sharing to and through Facebook via other apps and websites. Look for where it says Review and update the information you share with apps and websites by checking your settings. Click the word settings to be taken to the Apps and websites page.
There, you will find a list of all the apps and websites that you are currently sharing your Facebook data with. For some people, this might be an interesting and sobering experience. Any apps listed are those which you have installed (at some point) and during the installation, you agreed to share data with them (usually the actual risks are not clear, and are buried in the Terms and Conditions which the vast majority of people do not read.
Now you can see exactly what data you are sharing to outside of Facebook, and to where else exactly it is being shared. Select any app or website from the list to update the settings or remove the permissions entirely. You can see exactly which permissions each app has, and manage your preferences for each.
Our recommendation is to remove permissions for all apps and websites, unless they are absolutely essential somehow. If you choose to continue to allow your data to be shared, be sure that you understand how much of your data is shared, to where, and how it is used.
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