[Cambridge Analytica Scandal] Facebook Did Not Leak Data. It’s You Who Gave Permission.


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Facebook’s privacy policy is in such a way that it has the right to disclose your information to third-party apps. The company would protect your data unless you give permission to share data with third-party apps. The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal became popular after several media found out that they have been using data from Facebook for their data mining.

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal

As Mark Zuckerberg mentioned on his Facebook post, in the year 2013, a developer named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app where it asks users to login to his application using Facebook. Earlier in those times, Facebook provided all information about a user. For example, if a user grants permission to any of the third-party app that requires Facebook login, the whole list of friends, likes and posts (including other people posts on your timeline) were accessed by the app. Facebook just provides the data hoping that the developer do not make use of data mining and similar activities, or even do business with the data.

The personality quiz app that was created by Kogan reached more than 300,000 users. Due to this, Kogan was able to access a large number of data including the users who did not share their information (as Facebook gave permission to access the whole bunch of the users’ friend list).

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In 2014, Facebook made changes to their platform and made third-party applications to fetch limited information. After this major update, Facebook no longer provided the whole friend list to third-party apps. The app could only retrieve friends who have already used the third-party app. Also, the platform now limits the access to timeline posts as well. A third-party app cannot fetch all posts that are posted by another user.

Till now, Facebook did not realize that Cambridge Analytica had access to the data. In 2015, Facebook got to know that Kogan had shared all data that he got from the personality quiz app he created to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook do not encourage sharing users’ data without their consent. Thus, Facebook asked the Cambridge Analytica and Kogan to delete the data and certify them that the company has no data from Facebook. The company also certified that they have no data, and moreover, in a recent blog post on Cambridge Analytica, CEO has said that they have deleted Facebook data and also, in order to testify, they have already invited an individual third-party audit to check GSR data on their side.

Verdict

That’s all about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. On going deep, it’s our responsibility to take care of our data online. Neither Facebook nor Cambridge Analytica can be blamed. Facebook did not leak your data without your consent. When the personality quiz app asked for permission to access your data, it is you who granted access to your data, and it was misused.

However, Facebook should have limited API access to developers at the starting stage itself. This is, however, a Facebook’s early stage mistake, we cannot blame the company for the data that got leaked. When we get online, one should realize that our data is digitally hosted somewhere and strangers have access to it. Like Cambridge Analytica, can you guess how many companies hold your data just because you once gave a permission to know how you will look in 2050?

Raise up! If you are concerned about your personal data being shared and misused, you need to have control over it.

The Privacy Policy

Facebook privacy policy says, under disclosure of information:

To third-party apps, websites, or other services that you can connect to through the Services;

Also, when you grant permission to a third-party apps to access your data, you or Facebook is no way responsible for how the third-party make use of the data. Facebook can only find and restrict some of the apps that are misusing the data. It is really hard for even Facebook to find how your data is used by third-party application developers.

The privacy policy of Facebook also says:

Some of the Services may contain links to content maintained by third parties that we do not control. We are not responsible for the privacy practices of these third parties, and we recommend that you visit the privacy policies of each website that you visit.

Not just Facebook, any company who allows third-party services to users do not have control over the user data. Facebook now takes the blame for the mistake of not limiting their platform in the early stage. It is wholly users’ responsibility to share or not to share data with third-party applications.

Be Vigilant About Your Personal Data

The below screen is where you need to be alert if you are more concerned about your personal data.

Cambridge Analytica Scandal - Permission to Share Data with Third Party Apps

It is always better to be late than never. Next time, if you are attracted to any app that is really of no use, do not grant permission to the app. Getting a birthday wish from your crush is impressive but from a stranger, at midnight, who comes to your door and wishes you for your birthday is really strange.

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  • Facebook did allowed to access the profile information through API?

    • Arjun says:

      Yes. Usually, Facebook or any major social media today provides API to developers so that they can extend their application with it. Developers develop apps and they request user information using the API to the user. Once user grants permission, the developers gain access to the users’ data. So, in the end – Facebook indirectly provided access to the third-party whereas we, the end users are involved directly by granting permission.