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Thursday, 05 April 2018 09:41

All 2 billion Facebook users' data may have been scraped: CTO Featured

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Personal details of 311,027 Australians are among the data of a total of 87 million users of Facebook that leaked to the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica in 2016, the social media giant says.

But more alarming was the admission that practically all two billion of its users could have had their data scraped due to "features" on the website.

In a blog post, chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer wrote: "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."

Schroepfer made this admission when detailing a number of steps that he said the company was taking to cut down on data accessibility by third parties.

Last month, Facebook had to battle claims that data breaches led to information about 50 million of its users being siphoned off by Cambridge Analytica.

The company contested this, saying that the data exfiltration was due to a feature in an app. The allegations about Cambridge Analytica were made by a former employee, Christopher Wylie, and reported by London's The Observer and The New York Times over the weekend of 17/18 March.

The data was collected in 2014 by Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher, using an app that requested people to take a personality test for academic research.

According to the post by Schroepfer, of the Facebook users whose data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica, nearly 81% were American - a total of 70.6 million.

Schroepfer said changes would be made to the events API, the groups API, the pages API, the Facebook login, the Instagram platform API, call and text history, data providers and partner category and app controls to prevent data leaking out.

Details of these changes were provided in another blog post.

Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg is due to face the US Congress during a series of hearings next week. The UK parliament requested that Zuckerberg make an appearance there as well, but he rejected the request.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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