Canadians among users compromised in Facebook data scandal

Bernard De Vaal
By Bernard De Vaal April 7, 2018 10:33
Facebook user data breach

Cambridge Analytica has been implicated in stealing 87 million Facebook users’ data. Of these, 600 000 are Canadian accounts. Image by Bernard de Vaal.

Facebook will add a new tool for its more than 2 billion users this Monday: people will be able to see if their private information was stolen.

On March 27, Canadian Christopher Wylie, co-founder of Cambridge Analytica, blew the whistle on the data privacy breach. He testified before the British parliamentary media committee that public and private data of around 50 million people world-wide might have been used to influence, among several prominent campaigns, the 2016 general US elections and the Brexit vote in the UK.

Yesterday, Facebook released new data saying the number of users implicated has increased to 87 million. The company is now doing damage control by drastically upgrading user security along with offering the functionality for users to see what data they shared with which third party applications.

In a Facebook press release on Wednesday, the company said that as many as 620,000 Canadians were compromised in this data breach. The number is still growing.

Facebook stocks have taken a major plunge, having lost as much as US$5 billion in value on Thursday.

But what will users in Windsor do come Monday, if they find they might have fallen victim?

Aidan Varju, a St. Clair College student said, he doesn’t care.

“Well come Monday, I probably won’t care too much. I don’t use

Aiden Varju

Aiden Varju (left) and Matt Reddy, both St. Clair College student, said they hardly use Facebook. Photo by Bernard de Vaal.

Facebook all that often. I would just say it’s something of the past. All these new social media apps coming out are so much better,” he said.

Fellow student Matt Reddy agreed.

“I don’t really put anything out there that people don’t already know, so I don’t really care,” said Reddy.

Yvonne Pilon, an instructor at St. Clair College, said it won’t affect her much either.

“I will definitely check and I think it will be an eye opener,” she said. “Is it going to change the way I use social media? Probably not, but it will make me more aware of the importance of pushing social media platforms like Facebook to be more responsible.”

A personality quiz application developed by academic researcher Aleksandr Kogan allowed Cambridge Analytica access to users’ public and private data such as location check-ins and even personal messages. From this data, psychological profiles were carefully constructed enabling the company to advertise to users by focusing on their vulnerabilities.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised in a March 21 Facebook status, saying the company did not react to knowledge of the privacy breach when they first realized it back in 2014.

Canada’s privacy watchdog has launched an investigation to find out if any Canadian privacy laws have been broken.

Bernard De Vaal
By Bernard De Vaal April 7, 2018 10:33

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