Application exposes data from 3 million users on Facebook

Application exposes data from 3 million users on Facebook

Facebook opened an investigation against yet another personality test app over a data leak. Called myPersonality, the app is linked to the University of Cambridge and would have made the information of about three million users available for download for four years, which violates the terms of use of the social network. Likes, status updates, profile photos and other personal information may have been accessed. According to the News Scientist portal, which revealed the case, the app ran from 2007 to 2012 and was removed by Facebook in April 2018.

The app uses the same method as the This Is Your Digital Life app, linked to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, myPersonality data collection would have been restricted to those who answered the questionnaire, without extrapolating to the profiles of friends. Therefore, the tendency is that the impact of the leak is less.

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1 of 1 myPersonality Facebook application exposed data from millions of people – Photo: Luciana Maline / dnetc

Facebook application myPersonality exposed data from millions of people – Photo: Luciana Maline / dnetc

The data obtained was made available for download by Cambridge University employees. According to the News Scientist, the information came from more than 280 people linked to various research institutions, including groups linked to technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook itself.

In response to TechCrunch, the platform denied that the employees themselves had acquired the data and thereby breached company rules. However, University researcher David Stillwell says that Mark Zuckerberg’s company was aware of the app and that he would have even attended meetings about the project. «It is, therefore, a little strange that Facebook, suddenly, now says it does not know about the existence of the research,» the researcher told Business Insider.

Despite the defined number of students and researchers who collaborated with the study, it is not known whether the information may have been shared with third parties. It is also unclear whether only scholars would have access to the data kits. According to the project’s website, the database contains 6 million test results from 4 million profiles, but only 3.1 million data sets have been made available for download, and a smaller number still have all the metrics .

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

MyPersonality was one of 200 apps suspended by the social network as part of the measures announced after the Cambridge Analytica case came to light. “We suspended the myPersonality app almost a month ago, because we believe it may have violated Facebook’s policies. We’re currently investigating the app, and if [os criadores do] myPersonality if they refuse to cooperate or fail in our audit, we will ban it, ”said Ime Archibong, vice president of product partnerships for Facebook.

The test was created at the Center for Psychometric Studies in Cambridge, by a group led by researchers Michal Kosinski and Stillwell. Kosinski had previously accused Aleksandr Kogan of selling information to Cambridge Analytica and copying his method of psychometric analysis through Facebook tests. The mechanism consists of understanding user behavior through actions on the social network, such as likes and status updates, for example.

At the time, the information was used to fuel pro-Trump campaigns in the U.S. and pro-Brexit campaigns in the UK. MyPersonality, on the other hand, would have strictly academic goals. Published in News Scientist, the data collected from Facebook would have gone through an anonymization process before being made available for studies. Among the results is an article that compares someone’s perception of personality to that of friends, a machine and the person himself.

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