Facebook: Data Breach Affected 87 Million Users

Facebook has quietly upped to 87 million the number of users whose personal data was compromised by Cambridge Analytica, a conservative London-based consulting firm with ties to the 2016 presidential election.

The social media behemoth previously admitted to 50 million users whose personal data was sold in violation to the company’s privacy rules. Cambridge Analytica contends it obtained data from “no more than 30 million people.”

Regardless, Facebook admits that “malicious actors” could have had access to the personal data of all 2 billion registered members. It buried the updated numbers in an April 4 blog, ironically titled “Our Plans to Restrict Data Access on Facebook.”

“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,” Michael Schroepfer, chief technology officer, wrote in the blog.

Schroepfer said effective immediately apps using Facebook’s various “application programing interfaces” (APIs) would no longer be able to access the guest list or posts without Facebook approval to “strict (third-party use) requirements.”

Facebook APIs include “events,” “groups,” “commentary” and Instagram pages – bedrock of the social media pioneer.

“We will also no longer allow apps to ask for access to personal information such as religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom-friends lists, education and work history, fitness activity, book reading activity, music listening activity, news reading, video watch activity, and games activity,” Schroepfer wrote.

Facebook will also remove a developer’s ability to request data people shared with them if it appears they have not used the app in the last 3 months.

Beginning April 9, Facebook will display to users a link at the top of their “news feed” identifying what apps they use – and information they have shared with those third-party apps.

Users will also be able to remove apps they no longer want. As part of this process Facebook will reveal to users if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg is slated to appear April 11 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to answer questions about the Cambridge Analytica controversy.