Dear Commons Community,
The Cambridge Analytica data breach at Facebook may have been greater than originally estimated. Facebook yesterday said that the data of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with the political consulting firm connected to President Trump during the 2016 election — a figure far higher than the estimate of 50 million that had been widely cited since the leak was reported last month. As reported by the New York Times:
“Facebook had not previously disclosed how many accounts had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica, the firm connected to the Trump campaign. It has also been reluctant to disclose how it was used by Russian-backed actors to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Among Facebook’s acknowledgments on Wednesday was the disclosure of a vulnerability in its search and account recovery functions that it said could have exposed “most” of its 2 billion users to having their public profile information harvested.
The new effort to appear more transparent about the data leaks — including a rare question-and-answer session with Mr. Zuckerberg and reporters — came just before Mr. Zuckerberg’s expected testimony next week on Capitol Hill, where he will most likely face criticism over how the company collects and shares the personal data of its users. Sheryl Sandberg, Mr. Zuckerberg’s top deputy, has several national television interviews scheduled for later this week.
The company said that on Monday it would start telling users whether their information may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica.
Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook in Washington, said the 87 million figure was an estimate of the total number of users whose data could have been acquired by Cambridge Analytica. He said that the estimate was calculated by adding up all the friends of the people who had logged into the Facebook app from which Cambridge Analytica collected profile data.
“We wanted to put out the maximum number of people who could have been affected,” Mr. Zuckerberg told reporters.
It remains unclear exactly how many users had their personal information accessed by Cambridge Analytica. The firm said Wednesday that it had licensed data for no more than 30 million users of the social network.”
The data breach at Facebook is one of the major travesties of our digital world. There are so many unsuspecting everyday people whose data is being mined for all sorts of purposes some of which are nefarious to say the least.