How to find out if Facebook shared YOUR personal info with Cambridge Analytica: Tool reveals if you or your friends were affected
Originally it was 50 million accounts that Cambridge Analytica was supposed to have access to, then Facebook revised that figure to 87 million. If you or a friend logged in to the “This is Your Digital Life” app, then the controversial analytics firm got a profile of you, and it’s possible you were targeted with political ads based on this insider info.
Of course, the chances of you being part of the mix varies greatly by country. While around 22% of the US population had their data accessed, just 1.5% of the UK did.
But if you want to know for sure, Facebook has now revealed how it’s done. It’s really simple and can be done in just one click. Click here, and Facebook will tell you if it reckons you were impacted or not.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the odds, my data was not part of the data accessed by Cambridge Analytica. “Based on our available records, neither you nor your friends logged into ‘This Is Your Digital Life,’” my report reads. “As a result, it doesn’t appear your Facebook information was shared with Cambridge Analytica by ‘This Is Your Digital Life.’”
This isn’t just a whitewash where Facebook gives everyone the all clear, though. BBC Business and Economics producer Katie Hile tweeted that her page reported unauthorised access. In this instance, Facebook provides you with data on what exactly Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest – in Hile’s case: her public profile, pages she liked at the time, her birthday and current city.
That may not sound like a great deal to go on, but demographically speaking you can work out quite a lot from that. In a General Election, for example, location reveals what ward you would be voting in, and therefore whether or not it’s a close enough contest to be worth spending money on. Likewise, someone’s birthday reveals their age which can often be correlated with political perspective, while pages liked can reveal a lot more than you’d expect. As The Guardian explains, people who liked the page “I hate Israel” on Facebook were also more likely to show their loyalty to Kit Kats and Nike shoes. Theoretically, that means that even if people haven’t shown any overt political opinions, companies could guess which political buttons to press to boost or suppress voter turnout.
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Whether or not this shifted any votes or not is very hard to say, and depends on who you ask, but it’s ultimately all conjecture. There’s just no way of conducting an experiment with two identical electorates in two identical countries with identical candidates to check. All the same, it should make Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional grilling later today all the more interesting.