83 million users were affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but they haven’t been identified until now. A new Facebook tool lets its 2.13 billion active users check their status in a half-hearted bid for clarity.
It does so by checking if you or your friends logged into the ‘This is Your Digital Life’ app. Facebook is being particularly careful with the wording on its help page, stating:
“Based on our available records, neither you nor your friends logged into ‘This Is Your Digital Life.’ As a result, it doesn’t appear your Facebook information was shared with Cambridge Analytica by ‘This Is Your Digital Life.'”
Note that the company uses the terms ‘available records’ and ‘it doesn’t appear’. After a series of revelations over the past month, it’s covering all bases, including the possibility your information was collected by Cambridge Analytica through other apps. It’s not a complete confirmation and won’t help users who have already deleted their account, but it’s a good start.
Facebook is also making clear its plans to change in the future, as well as directing users to their settings, where they can check the permissions other apps have.
Thousands of Messages Collected
However, it seems the company has once again divulged important information tactically and at the last minute. According to Wired, the help page of affected users reads:
“A small number of people who logged into “This is Your Digital Life” also shared their own News Feed, timeline, posts, and messages which may have included posts and messages from you.”
Not only is this new information, it contradicts what Zuckerberg said previously. The CEO said all the data was details users “chose to share”, while friends certainly didn’t consent to a third party reading their messages.
Access to the read_mailbox permission allegedly remained until October 2015, 7 months after the other permissions were disabled. Facebook says 1,500 people granted access, meaning potentially millions of messages were collected.