Saturday 22 September 2018

Irish users caught up in Facebook scandal as number of those affected worldwide swells to 87 million

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Stephen Lam/Reuters
Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Stephen Lam/Reuters
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Irish users have been caught up in the Facebook scandal as it's revealed that the number of people worldwide whose personal data was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica is likely to be 87m - almost twice the figure initially thought.

The admission came from Facebook's chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer as the company outlined new measures aimed at restricting the personal data available to third-party app developers. Most of the 87m affected reside in the US, with around 1m estimated to be in the UK.

Up to 45,000 users in Ireland may have also been affected by the data breach, Facebook told RTE News on Wednesday night.

The social network added that while just 15 Facebook users in Ireland had downloaded the personality quiz app, thisisyourdigitallife (the app at the heart of the controversy), up to 44,687 users may have been friends with those who had downloaded the app and subsequently may have had their data collected.

The company revealed yesterday that tens of millions more people might have been exposed in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal than previously thought and said it will restrict the data it allows outsiders to access on its users.

Those developments came as Facebook unveiled a new privacy policy that aims to explain the data it gathers on users more clearly - but doesn't change what it collects and shares.

"We're not asking for new rights to collect, use or share your data on Facebook," said Erin Egan, chief privacy officer with the social media giant.

"We're also not changing any of the privacy choices you've made in the past."

Ms Egan said Facebook was updating its terms to make it "easier to read".

Facebook is facing its worst privacy scandal in years following allegations that a Trump-affiliated data mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, used data from millions of users to try to influence elections.

On Monday, all Facebook users will receive a notice on their feeds with a link to see what apps they use and what information they have shared with those apps.

They will have a chance to delete apps they no longer want.

Users who might have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica will be told of that.

Facebook says most of the affected users are in the US.

The company is restricting access that apps can get about users' events, as well as information about groups such as member lists and content.

Irish Independent

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