There is an unwitting mole amongst my friends. Without my permission, they passed my personal information to a Facebook app called “This Is Your Digital Life”, which eventually ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, the company famed for using questionable tactics in an effort to influence election campaigns.
Facebook won’t say for certain exactly what happened, nor which friend was involved. Only 270,000 people ever used the This Is Your Digital Life (TIYDL) app, but Facebook estimates that data from 87 million people ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica this way.
As a result, Facebook’s boss Mark Zuckerberg spent last week being grilled by the US congress. In the UK, a legal team is gathering claimants to take Facebook to court for mishandling their data. Where did it all go wrong?
Personal information can sound so vague, so let’s be specific. People who used the TIYDL app gave it permission to access their friend’s Facebook public profile page, date of birth, current city and pages they had liked. Facebook also says that “a small number of people” gave permission to share their own timeline and private messages too, meaning that posts or correspondence from their friends would have been scooped up as well.