Social media giant Facebook has revealed that the number of users affected by the Cambridge Analytica data scandal is significantly greater than first thought, with around 300,000 Australians believed to have had their personal information accessed.
Facebook originally estimated that the data of 50 million users had been breached, but this has since been increased to 87 million worldwide.
Cambridge Analytica is a data mining firm and has been accused of using ill-gotten data from Facebook to sway elections, most notably the 2016 US Presidential Election that saw Donald Trump rise to power.
Methods used include targeted political ads, with Facebook also explaining that it collects people’s contact information, which can mean call logs and text histories.
Facebook has published a breakdown by country of what users are affected, with US citizens forming the vast majority.
Exact Australian figures totalled 311,127, but it’s not clear exactly how, or for what purpose, the data of Australian users was accessed for.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress on 11 April and has taken out ads in US and British newspapers apologising for the scandal.
“We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it,” the ad headline said.
Breaking News: Facebook raised its estimate of how many peoples’ data was improperly used by a consulting firm tied to President Trump, to as many as 87 million https://t.co/VdIVbY2kCb
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 4, 2018
Is your data safe?
One of the ways that Cambridge Analytica accessed data was through third party apps and the information Facebook users have shared with those apps. Facebook can be integrated with Instagram, Airbnb, news apps, game apps and more, which all demand some access to user data.
Next week, Facebook will publish a notice on the News Feed with a link prompting users to review the apps they have allowed to access their data and to delete the apps they no longer want there.
Users are generally advised to periodically review the apps they allow to access their Facebook data and to review privacy settings, as well as the information they share to the social media network.