Facebook Data Breach – Were You Affected?

By now you may or may not have read about Facebook CEO’s ‘apology tour’ for the data breach that occurred in 2013. If so it may have raised some questions for you. What happened? What’s it all about? Was I affected? What can I do to protect myself?

What happened?

Back in 2013, a data mining consultancy called Cambridge Analytica developed an app called “thisisyourdigitallife”. The premise of the app was a physiological quiz that users were paid to use, with the aim of gathering the users personal data. From there, it reportedly spread the users friends, and their friends and so on gathering personal data. There’s a good timeline of events on CNBC here.

What was the result?

In mid-March 2018, former Cambridge Analytica Director and Co-founder Christopher Wylie turned whistle-blower and exposed that 87 million users data was harvested Worldwide. The continued fall-out is Facebook trying to save-face over this debacle, with Mark Zuckerberg doing the apology tour (as mentioned about) which included facing US congress.

In New Zealand, it’s been reported by a few media outlets (including The Guardian) that 10 people downloaded the app in NZ and from there over 67 thousand Kiwi’s data was accessed. To put that into perspective, it’s around the equivalent populations of Marlborough and the West Coast combined.

How do I know I’ve been affected?

The social media giant put out a statement saying that anyone who’s data stolen should have been notified through the site today (Monday the 8th of April 2018). Further to this, all Facebook users will receive a notification entitled ‘Protecting Your Information’ which will have a link to see which apps you have allowed in Facebook and what information is shared by those apps. You will be able to shut-off apps or turn off third-party access. In the examples below, the image to the left shows the general Privacy notification, and the one to the right is what you would have received if your data was breached.

What can I do to increase my safety?

As a result of this, Facebook are taking their own measures to increase privacy (such as tightening login and account recovery security, and also the way that you can be found by users who aren’t your ‘friend’). To see more on what’s changed, see this post from Facebook Newsroom.

In the meantime, we highly recommend reviewing and updating your privacy settings. To do this, Go to Settings > Privacy. Here you can decide who can send you Friendship Requests, who can see your posts and who can see your Friends etc. We also recommend reviewing the apps that you have Facebook access with and their settings.

If you have any questions, please contact us on 0800 878 833 and we’ll do our best to help!