Facebook data breach puts users at risk

The data breach put millions of users personal information at risk. The data mining corporation Cambridge Analytica is under investigation.

By Associate News Editor Cody Campbell

Facebook users may have noticed an unusual notification on their feed titled “Protecting Your Information”.

On April 10 Facebook notified its users a third-party data breach may have exposed their private information to data mining corporations.

Approximately 87 million users are affected by the data breach, which involved the use of a third-party personality quiz app.

The app is called “This Is Your Digital Life” and Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan is the developer of the 2013 app. The app gathered the personal information of all of its 300,000 users, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent Facebook post.

In the post, Zuckerberg said he is ultimately responsible for what happens on his platform.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he said. “I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Zuckerberg’s post said Kogan shared the information his app acquired to the data mining corporation Cambridge Analytica, which is against Facebook policy.

Facebook banned Kogan’s app in 2015 and demanded both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to formally certify the deletion of all improperly acquired data.

The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 published an expose alleging Cambridge Analytica did not delete the data on March 17. The expose alleges Cambridge Analytica used the data to help boost certain political campaigns through the use of targeted ads.

Zuckerberg said Cambridge Analytica is banned from using any of Facebook’s services in his post.

“Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to confirm (the deletion of the data),” he said. “We’re also working with regulators as they investigate what happened.”

Sophomore Sam Thayer said there should be some level of privacy on social media.

“The election has shown us that things (like Facebook) can be breached,” he said. “Facebook was created to have a place where you could hang out but still have a sense of privacy.”

Zuckerberg went before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees April 10. On the same day, Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal introduced a “privacy bill of rights” aiming to protect the personal data of Americans.

Markey said in an April 10 press release Americans deserve a privacy bill of rights which puts consumers first.

“The avalanche of privacy violations by Facebook and other online companies has reached a critical threshold, and we need legislation that makes consent the law of the land,” he said. “Voluntary standards are not enough; we need rules on the books that all online companies abide by that protect Americans and ensure accountability.”

Republican Senator John Kennedy and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced a bipartisan bill to give consumers more power over their sensitive data April 12. The bill will give consumers the ability to disable data tracking and collection on websites and require companies to notify users of any data breach within 72 hours.

After two days of hearings, Congress did not reach a bipartisan agreement for regulating the way corporations handle personal data.