3 million users exposed in new Facebook data leak
MANILA, Philippines – Another quiz application may have exposed the personal data of over 3 million Facebook users, the London-based technology magazine New Scientist reported Monday, May 14 (May 15, Manila time).
Data acquired from the "myPersonality" quiz app was distributed through a website with insufficient security provisions, the report said. The quiz, made by researchers from the University of Cambridge, was completed by about 6 million users, with about half opting to share their Facebook data with the researchers.
The profile data and quiz results – with names removed – were allowed to be accessed on a website by select researchers in and out of the university. The data was meant to be restricted; users had to register as a collaborator to the project, with more than 280 people from nearly 150 institutions doing this, including researchers from universities and companies that include Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.
Those who weren't able to get access to the data due to the lack of a permanent academic contract, however, could work around the restriction. A username-password combination was available for the last 4 years through a web search, giving anyone access to the data set without much hassle.
The credentials provided access to the following:
- access to the “Big Five” personality scores of 3.1 million users, which are used in psychology to assess people’s characteristics, such as conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism.
- access to 22 million status updates from over 150,000 users
- additionally, details including age, gender and relationship status from 4.3 million people
The report added the data sets were controlled by David Stillwell and Michal Kosinski at the University of Cambridge’s The Psychometrics Centre. Stilwell's website and Twitter profile have gone offline as of posting time.
While not directly related to Cambridge Analytica, Alexandr Kogan, who was at the center of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, was previously part of this project.
The app, along with many others, has since been suspended by Facebook. Facebook, however, may continue to investigate this and seek further action. – Rappler.com