Friday 20 April 2018

Was your Facebook data improperly accessed? You'll soon be notified

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Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Are you one of the 45,000 Irish people whose personal information was improperly accessed as part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

You'll soon know. Next week, those affected will get a notification from Facebook.

In terms of repercussions or sanctions against the social media giant, there probably won't be any because of historically weak data privacy law.

But if such an event were repeated in six weeks' time, it might be a different story. That's because Europe has a new data privacy law coming in that will mean companies now have much tighter legal responsibilities when it comes to what happens to their users' information.

In a rare interview conference call with journalists (including this one) the other night, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg admitted that both he and his company have consistently gotten it wrong when it comes to assessing the damage that is being done by those manipulating Facebook.

He also said that Facebook is now signing up to more of Europe's privacy agenda and that it will even roll out some of the EU's strict privacy rules to all of the social network's global users.

Some of Ireland's two million daily Facebook members are already seeing this in effect. Users of the dating app Tinder, for example, experienced problems logging in over recent days because Facebook is now cutting down the amount of information that apps can get from its own users. The same goes for other everyday online apps and services that use Facebook as a shortcut to building a profile on you. Does this mean that we're going to see a complete shutdown of dodgy behaviour when it comes to people's personal data on Facebook?

No.

The company itself admits this, saying that cleaning things up is a "multi-year" exercise instead of one for the next six months.

In Ireland, one test will be the upcoming abortion referendum, which may be wide open for some sort of repeat Cambridge Analytica process, with misappropriated online quizzes or personality tests, Facebook says it's watching out for this type of behaviour and will apply new artificial intelligence technology to try to prevent it.

Let's wait and see.

Irish Independent

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