When the news of Facebook’s data breach became known, it sent many into a panic. After all, many of us count ourselves as one of Facebook’s two-billion users. While CEO Mark Zuckerberg was mute on the subject for a few weeks, the other day he finally spoke to news outlets and admitted that most users should assume their data has been compromised.
Two Separate Issues
There has actually been two separate incidents of data being compromised or having been leaked. The most well-known is from a political consulting firm by the name Cambridge Analytica. They had contact with users through a quiz on the social media site, then took the data and used it to try to influence them to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
After the consulting firm gathered the data, it then suffered a data breach, meaning not only were Facebook users targeted with political ads for one candidate, their data was then leaked, placing them at risk.
Additionally, there’s a vulnerability issue with Facebook’s search function. Users can search for other users using their email addresses or phone numbers. Users opt into this, meaning those affected are only the users who opted in. However, those who did opt in face a problem.
CTO Mike Schroepfer discussed in a blog post why this is a problem. “However, malicious actors have also abused these features to scrape public profile information by submitting phone numbers or email addresses they already have through search and account recovery. Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way.“
Zuckerberg commented about this as well. “I would assume if you had that setting turned on that someone at some point has access to your public information in some way.“
Fixing the Problem
As Zuckerberg commented, you should probably assume that you have been affected in some way.
If you’d like to know what information Facebook is holding about you, sign in to Facebook, then go to “Settings -> Ads -> Your information -> Review and Manage Your Categories.”
You can see exactly what information Facebook has on you. You can click on any of these categories to remove the information.
Facebook appears to be doing their part as well. On Monday users will see a notification on their feeds telling them how to have their information given to fewer places. And they will also begin notifying the 87 million people whose information may have gone to Cambridge Analytica and who may not have consented.
Still More to Do
There is, of course, still more to do to fix this. While everyone was being encouraged to delete Facebook recently, and that’s still an option, if you just hate to give up Facebook, know that the company is working on the problem and that there are further things you can do to protect yourself more as well.
Sure, you can still delete Facebook, but it won’t solve the fact that you may be one of those 87 million people assumed to have already had their data leaked. But it’s a good thing that Facebook is already planning on what to do to fix the issue.
Are you afraid you are one of the users who was affected? Let us know in the comment section below.