How you can tell if your Facebook data were given to Cambridge Analytica

Now there’s not much you can do about it now if your Facebook data was given to Cambridge Analytica. If you’re on FB, an icon will eventually appear at the top of your screen (it isn’t yet on mine). Here’s the skinny according to CNN Tech:

On Monday, the social media giant began rolling out a “see how you’re affected” tool at the top of News Feeds to inform users if they’re among the tens of millions of people who had their data improperly harvested by Cambridge Analytica. The link will take them to a Help Center page that says if and how their data may have been misused.

The full roll out will happen over time, so not all users will see the link at the same time.

Users who were not affected will see a different link highlighting which apps are connected to their Facebook accounts and what data those third parties can see. The link also directs users to a tool that allows them to disconnect apps from accounts.

Every user will eventually see a message, according to a Facebook spokesperson. The company shared a preview of what the messages look like, though added that they may be tweaked during the roll out.

Up to 87 million users could have been affected by this theft:

The data obtained was originally collected by University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan who used an app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” which offered a personality test. Facebook users who downloaded the app granted it permission to collect data on their location, friends and things they Liked. The data collection was allowed by Facebook at the time.

However, Facebook has said that Kogan violated its terms of service by giving the information to Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook banned Kogan and Cambridge Analytica from its platform last month ahead of a New York Times investigative report about how the data was passed on.

Mark Zuckerberg is testifying before Congress today, and it will be interesting, if nothing else, to see him in a suit instead of a gray tee-shirt.



  1. GBJames
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I read my FB notice this morning. It told me nothing that I didn’t already know or suspect… I hadn’t use the app so I hadn’t been directly involved (I knew that already). But one or more friend did. I suspected that simply as a function of probability.

    Close to useless notice, IMO.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Do not worry, Putin is protecting your personal data. You are in good hands, just like Allstate insurance.

  3. Craw
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Be even more interesting to see him in stripes.

  4. Craw
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Cambridge Analytica wasn’t the only political outfit given such access, according to Zuckerberg, they were just the sleaziest and now most notorious. Plus fb has been harvesting data from private messages. Tim Wu had a good piece in the NYT recently.

  5. BobTerrace
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I have never run any apps on Facebook and I have never played any games.

    For any advertisement that I see on Facebook, I select to hide all ads from that sponsor. I have hidden hundreds of ads and any game presented. I rarely see any ads and have not seen any games for years.

    I also mark accounts as fake account and FB informs me when those accounts have been removed.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted April 10, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      That is all well and good but according to my understand of some of this, they can get your data by simply having access to others in FB that you deal with.

    • GBJames
      Posted April 10, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      “I have never run any apps on Facebook”

      That won’t protect you. Your “friends” have. And the knee bone is connected to the shin bone, so to speak.

  6. jay
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Apparently they didn’t learn ‘when you’re in a hole, stop digging’

    It is interesting through all this, though: a few years ago, MIT Technology Review published a long and glowing article about how the 2012 Obama campaign ran on data collection. Among the things that were touted was the ability to bring anonymized lists together to de-anonymize people. Subsequent phone bank calls were targeted according the the political opinions that were deduced from cable viewing habits, purchase, website searches etc.

    The DNC at that time bragged that they had identified virtually every voter who voted for Obama in 2008.

    How the world has changed.

  7. Posted April 10, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    No fb. No problem.

    • GBJames
      Posted April 10, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Except that the “problem” isn’t a personal thing, it is a social one. You live, unfortunately, in a society where FB (and other) social media has contributed to the rise of Trumpism, Brexit, etc. You can’t escape by not participating!

      • jay
        Posted April 10, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        People communicating unfiltered is a bad thing?

        • GBJames
          Posted April 10, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          Did someone say that? (If that is directed to me, I think it is a non-sequitur.)

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted April 10, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Here, here. And FB is just the primary target on this but far from the only one. It is just one of the many tools used by the Soviets and others to wreak havoc on our elections, our infrastructure and many other things. We are still asleep at the switch.

      • Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        A common claim, but what evidence? Countries like Canada and France where the social media are free and prevalent have elected internationalist democratic leaders, while countries with more restrictive policies on social media have become more authoritarian and nativist.

        • GBJames
          Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

          It is unclear what you are responding to.

          • Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

            That the social media contributed to Trumpism and Brexit. It may be true, but what is the evidence? We see countries with vibrant social media where populism has not risen so much.

            • GBJames
              Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

              Hell… go watch CSPAN today. (assuming you are in the US)

      • W.T. Effingham
        Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        Can’t escape by not participating. Last time I heard that phrase was when our department had a meeting with H.R. down at the Soylent Green plant.

      • Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        This is not necessarily true. One can stay connected to the world and still be quite distant from harms (or good) of ‘social engineering attempts that give rise to Trumpism, Brexit (equal rights marches).

        Facebook is very much like religion. It’s there, it’s important to some, it can be deleterious to people’s lives, but it has no effect on my life that can’t be easily avoided or dealt with.

        • GBJames
          Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          One can’t escape the consequences of large-scale social phenomena by pretending it doesn’t exist.

          I’m an atheist, so I appreciate the comparison you’re trying to make. But the consequences of large numbers of people believing in talking snakes play out in the society I’m a member of. Covering ears and eyes doesn’t make theocrats disappear and will not make the consequences of social media evaporate.

          I can drive a low-emmissions car, or not drive at all. Global warming still will happen because of the activities of the rest of society.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted April 10, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

            You’re talking at cross-purposes, I think. Farcebook exists, so does syphilis. One can usually manage to avoid both.

            (I’m ‘on’ Farcebook but I never use it. Email is quite sufficient for me.

            I only joined to contact an ex-tenant that Google sowed was on Farcebook and who I couldn’t reach any other way. And I’ll only ever use it if I need to contact somebody whose email I don’t have).


            • GBJames
              Posted April 10, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

              Not a good analogy, IMO. The worst consequences of the problems with Facebook have to do with consequences for the republic. That is a different order of problem than syphilis or identity fraud. Having avoided your personal history being leaked from FB, you still have to pay the far higher price of having your political system wrecked.

              You can’t escape the collapse of a civilization by hiding in a cabin in the woods.

            • dallos
              Posted April 11, 2018 at 1:18 am | Permalink

              Did you know that?


              “Specifically, the report notes that this data is focused on Facebook users’ offline behavior, not just what they do online.”

            • dallos
              Posted April 11, 2018 at 1:54 am | Permalink

              I bet that facebook and/or google can identify you based on what you posted on
              this site.

            • dallos
              Posted April 11, 2018 at 2:23 am | Permalink

              An attorney who wrote: “I deleted Facebook after it recommended as PYMK a man who was defense counsel on one of my cases. We had only communicated through my work email, which is not connected to my Facebook, which convinced me Facebook was scanning my work email.”


  8. Neil Wolfe
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting how people are shocked (SHOCKED!) that there could be negative consequences to voluntarily disclosing every aspect of your life to a corporation whose whole business model is based on the usefulness of that information to those who want to manipulate them.

    • Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Right on. My septuagenarian father, who is a retired scientist and still very spry and is pretty good with technology, has always adamantly refused to use Facebook for this very reason. He did not use the term “manipulated”, but would just point out that FB just wants to monetize your data and therefore has tremendous built in conflicts of interest with regard to safeguarding that data.

      Sometimes being older really is being wiser I guess!

    • Posted April 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Well said!

  9. Neil Wolfe
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    My use of the word “manipulate” is based on a view of advertising as a form of manipulation. I completely agree with your father. I have always been cynical beyond my years but I would not say wiser.

    • Neil Wolfe
      Posted April 10, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      That’s supposed to be a reply to blitz442 above. (insert embarrassed emogi that I don’t know how to insert)

  10. Bob Gilbert
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I just tried to “deactivate” my FB account, and was not permitted to do so. FB asked me, during the deactivation process, to pick a reason for the deactivation from a FB list. There was no list, so I was not able to deactivate, since giving a reason was a deactivation requirement. The skulduggery continues.

    • grasshopper
      Posted April 10, 2018 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Did you try turning off NoScript, and your ad-blockers?

    • Posted April 10, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      And my phone came with Facebook preinstalled. RIP

  11. Bob Gilbert
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I now see the rather obscure “deactivation reasons” list and was able to say — So long, Zuck!

  12. Bob Gilbert
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I now see the rather obscure “deactivation reasons” list and was able to say — So long, Zuck!

  13. dallos
    Posted April 11, 2018 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Everybody should read this.
    (“Used” is for “user”.)

    In general “What’s bad about..(google/youtube),..linkedIn, Microsoft..”

    • Posted April 11, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      The IT industry is one of only two industries that call the people who use their products “users”.

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