Facebook users are waking up to just how much private information they have handed over to third-party apps.
Users are sharing their shock on Twitter at discovering that thousands of software plugins for Facebook have been gathering their data.
Some of the better known apps that may be connected to your profile include those of popular sites like Amazon, Buzzfeed, Expedia, Etsy, Instagram, Spotify and Tinder.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today admitted his firm ‘made mistakes’ leading up to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
It comes as the academic who developed the app that allowed under-fire firm Cambridge Analytica to harvest data from up to 50 million Facebook profiles said he had no idea his work would be used to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Users are sharing their shock on Twitter at discovering that thousands of software plugins for Facebook have been gathering their data. Pictured: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Amy H added: ‘Deleting Facebook only pulls your data from Facebook. The apps that have your data still have it’
Facebook users are waking up to just how much of their private information they have accidentally handed over to third-party apps. Social media users are sharing their shock at discovering thousands of software plugins have been gathering their data
Alexandr Kogan, a psychology researcher at Cambridge University, said both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have tried to place the blame on him for violating the social media platform’s terms of service.
‘My view is that I’m being basically used as a scapegoat,’ he said. ‘Honestly, we thought we were acting perfectly appropriately – we thought we were doing something that was really normal.’
He also revealed that tens of thousands of other apps may be mining social media for personal data to be sold on.
Dr Aleksandr Kogan claims he had no idea his work in 2014 would be used to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and believes he has been made a scapegoat
But he added: ‘I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic. It made claims that this data is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But the reality is it’s not that. If you look at the data carefully those claims quickly fall apart’.
Many users are choosing to manually remove permissions previously granted to each individual app used with Facebook, a time consuming process.
It is unclear whether this will allow them to claw back data previously shared via third-parties.
The panic follows revelations that data gathered by a quiz app called This Is Your Digital Life, used by 270,000 Facebook users in 2015, was sold on to Cambridge Analytica after being created by Kogan.
Cambridge Analytica is currently embroiled in a privacy row amid accusations the information was used by the Trump campaign to influence the US presidential elections, as well as to boost the Brexit campaign in the UK.
The head of the firm, Alexander Nix, was suspended yesterday after Channel 4 News broadcast hidden camera footage of him suggesting the company could use young women to catch opposition politicians in compromising positions.
Footage also showed Nix bragging about the firm’s pivotal role in the Trump campaign.
Nix said Cambridge Analytica handled ‘all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting’ for the Trump campaign, and used emails with a ‘self-destruct timer’ to make the firm’s role more difficult to trace.
‘There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing,’ he said.
Auditors sent by the social media giant were looking through the files until the Information Commissioner convinced them to ‘stand down’ so it does not compromise the ‘integrity’ of their investigation. Pictured: Chief executive Alexander Nix arrives at the Cambridge Analytica offices
Footage emerged of a meeting in which Mr Nix appears to suggest that CA could compromise politicians by sending ‘beautiful’ Ukrainian women to candidates’ house
Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix arrived at the firm’s London offices yesterday as Facebook auditors combed through their files
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica’s board said Nix’s comments ‘do not represent the values or operations of the firm, and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation.’
Facebook itself is drawing criticism from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic for its alleged failure to protect users’ privacy.
Sandy Parakilas, who worked in data protection for Facebook in 2011 and 2012, told a U.K. parliamentary committee Wednesday that the company was vigilant about its network security but lax when it came to protecting users’ data.
He said personal data including email addresses and in some cases private messages was allowed to leave Facebook servers with no real controls on how the data was used after that.
Facebook allows you to connect plugin apps specially designed to work with the social network, ranging from games and entertainment to fast-food delivery.
Facebook allows you to connect plugin apps specially designed to work with the social network, ranging from games and entertainment to fast-food delivery. Each time you connect an app you are giving it permission to record details about you
HOW CAN YOU STOP FACEBOOK APPS FROM HARVESTING YOUR DATA?
One way to try and ensure that your data stays private is to request that your Facebook account be deleted, but that doesn’t necessarily protect information you have already supplied.
Many users are willing to trade off the risk of supplying their data for the convenience of staying connected to friends and others on the social network.
So what can you do to protect your data if you want to stay on Facebook?
To begin, visit the settings area of Facebook found via the drop-down arrow in the top right-hand corner of your profile page on the desktop version of the site.
Then click on the apps tab on the left of the page and click ‘show all’ at the bottom, then you can see, edit, and remove all the apps you’ve ‘consented’ to track your account.
Now, a likely vast list of all apps that can access and view your own personal data will be revealed.
To edit or remove these apps from your list of permitted platforms, simply hover the mouse over one of the options.
Clicking the pencil icon will bring up the edit options and clicking the ‘X’ will bring up the option to remove it.
For each app that has access to the data, users can go in and customise what permissions are granted to each app.
For example, many apps use friends list information, profile information and sometimes even work and educational history.
Most will already know your email and have access to any information on your profile.
To restrict access, there is a blue tick option on the right-hand side of different permissions such as email, profile picture, education etc.
Apps can make some permissions compulsory and these cannot be unchecked and appear as a faded out blue.
If this makes you uncomfortable then the only way to restrict this data reaching that specific company is to click the ‘X’ and remove the app.
Users can make a judgement call on the optional pieces of information too and customise the data that is shared.
To change the data permissions for all of the apps is time consuming, but it is the only way to gain control over the free distribution of personal data.
By scrolling further down the Settings>Apps window there are other options to further customise who can view personal data.
At this point, it is important to remember that all previous apps were, at some point, granted permission by the user to access their data.
Under the ‘Apps Others Use’ tab, this gets taken out of the user’s hands.
Here, it shows all the data available for Facebook friends to see.
Whilst there may be no issue with this being shared with friends and acquaintances on the social media platform, that data is also being seen by the apps your friends use.
These will include apps that a user did not individually grant permission to.
Here, a checklist of options will appear when selected, and users can customise and restrict what non-authorised third-party apps can view.
Each time you connect an app you are giving it permission to record details about you.
That includes your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, username and user ID.
Facebook has since amended its policy which allowed third-party apps to access your friends’ data as well.
You can check which apps your Facebook account is sharing data with by clicking here.
Twitter users have shared details of just how many apps they have connected to their Facebook profile.
Among those affected are Ross McGuinness, who said: ‘My Facebook is connected to 126 different apps! Time to delete every single one’
Jason Abbruzzese said: ‘Went to check how many apps I’ve connected to through Facebook and… aaaaaaaaaaccckkkkkk’
Many claim that this runs into the hundreds and thousands, a large proportion of which they were unaware they had granted permission to.
Among those affected are Ross McGuinness, who said: ‘My Facebook is connected to 126 different apps! Time to delete every single one.
‘No idea about this Cambridge Analytica thing but I know I have to delete those apps.’
Jason Abbruzzese said: ‘Went to check how many apps I’ve connected to through Facebook and… aaaaaaaaaaccckkkkkk.’
Natasha Field wrote: ‘Just been through all the apps linked to my Facebook account and deleted them.
Natasha Field said: ‘Just been through all the apps linked to my Facebook account and deleted them’
Diana Wright wrote: ‘Many people are calling for us to DUMP our Facebook pages but the problem is when you delete your page is it really DELETED?’
Co-creator of WhatsApp urges Facebook users to delete profiles
Mark Zuckerberg may have helped make him a billionaire, but that hasn’t stopped Brian Acton from turning against Facebook.
The co-founder of Whatsapp has taken to Twitter to urge everyone to delete their Facebook profiles tweeting: ‘It is time. #deletefacebook’.
It takes 90 days for a user’s data to be wiped from the site after deleting it.
The hashtag has been trending amid outrage over Facebook’s links to controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica and its handling of personal data.
Along with WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, Brian Acton (pictured) sold the app to Facebook for 19 billion dollars (£11.4 billion) in 2014 – the largest deal in Facebook’s history
Acton sold Whatsapp to Facebook for $19 billion (£11.4 billion) in 2014 – the largest deal in Facebook’s history.
The Californian-based entrepreneur’s apparent advocacy for people to remove their profiles comes as Facebook faces pressure to explain its privacy safeguards to regulators and politicians in the US and UK.
Cambridge Analytica (CA) was suspended from Facebook last week after it emerged that data on 50 million users had not been destroyed as agreed.
Facebook’s stock has fallen by 10 per cent since and the deletefacebook hashtag has been trending among users.
Acton was at WhatsApp for several years before leaving to start the Signal Foundation earlier this year.
He applied for a job at Facebook in 2009 but got rejected.
Brian Acton tweeted: ‘It is time. #deletefacebook’ as the hashtag trended amid growing outrage over the social media giant’s links to controversial British data firm Cambridge Analytica (CA)
‘Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure’, he tweeted at the time.
According to Forbes, Acton held over 20 per cent stake in the company when it was sold, making him worth around $3.8 billion (£2.7 billion).
Now the company is one of the biggest mobile messaging apps with 1.3 billion active monthly users.
Acton is now believed to be worth $5.5 billion (£3.9 billion).
The WhatsApp founder has around 21,000 followers on Twitter and it is not clear if he still has an account on Facebook.
‘Amazed at how many there were, without me even being aware of them.’
A number of Twitter users have suggested deleting their Facebook accounts altogether, but some question whether this drastic step will be enough to solve the issue.
Timeline: How the Facebook data crisis has unfolded
March 18 – Facebook suspends Donald Trump’s data operations team for misusing people’s personal information as Cambridge Analytica story breaks.
CA’s use of Facebook data branded a ‘grossly unethical experiment’ by social media giant who said their policies had been breached;
March 19 – US markets open and Facebook shares plunge over its handling of personal data.
Facebook also hires its own forensics team to investigate Cambridge Analytica and they start searching CA’s offices in London.
But CA refuse to allow Britain’s Information Commissioner’s team in and force her to go to court for a warrant.
March 20 – Facebook l hold an emergency meeting to let employees ask questions about Cambridge Analytica as their share prices plunges.
But Mark Zuckerberg fails to show up and is yet to speak about the crisis that has seen billions wiped off the value of his company.
The billionaire is also asked to appear before Parliament to answer allegations his company has lied about how it handles data.
March 21 – Architect of app that helped harvest data for Cambridge Analytica says tens of thousands of other apps might be doing the same job.
Diana Wright wrote: ‘Many people are calling for us to DUMP our Facebook pages but the problem is when you delete your page is it really DELETED?
‘NO b/c if you decide to return doesn’t Facebook reboot your account with ALL the Information you posted? Why are they able to do it?’
Amy H added: ‘Deleting Facebook only pulls your data from Facebook. The apps that have your data still have it.
‘You’d have to reach out to them individually to ask them to delete your data. But you won’t know which apps your friends allowed to have your info. So, uh, good luck.’
Its particularly bad timing for Facebook, which has been hit by allegations of mis-managing the data it gathers from users.
Cambridge Analytica is reported to have bought data from 50 million Facebook users that was obtained without their permission.
The communications firm, based in London, was hired by the team behind Donald Trump’s successful US presidential bid.
In a blog post on Saturday, Facebook explained that Cambridge Analytica had years ago received user data from a Facebook app that purported to be a psychological research tool, though the firm was not authorised to have the information.
Cambridge Analytica later certified in 2015 that it had destroyed the information it had received, according to Facebook, although the social network said it received reports ‘several days ago’ that not all the data was deleted.
Facebook says it is investigating.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s comments that early users of his social network were ‘dumb f***s’ for trusting him with their data have also re-emerged in recent days.
Zuckerberg made the shocking remark during an instant messenger conversation with a friend at the age of 19, shortly after launching the site.
Facebook’s ex operations manager says Mark Zuckerberg would have known about concerns of data breaches in 2011
By Kate Ferguson
Mark Zuckerberg would have known about concerns of data breaches at Facebook as early as 2010, MPs today heard.
The tech giant’s former operations manager Sandy Parakilas said the media giant handed over ‘highly personal’ data on its users to app developers.
But once the information was handed over the company had no way of keeping track of it – meaning it could be harvested and used by firms like Cambridge Analytica.
Mr Parakilas, who worked for the firm in 2011 and 2012, said he gave top executives a briefing on the dangers that data could be breached.
Sandy Parakilas (pictured left) said Mark Zuckerburg (pictured right) would have known aout concerns data could be harvested back in 2011
But he said Facebook effectively turned a blind eye to these concerns and did not carry out audits of where the data was going.
He said Facebook’s obsession with growth but lax privacy controls was like the ‘Wild West’ of America.
His revelations to the culture select committee comes amid outcry over claims the details of 50 million Facebook users were harvested by the firm Cambridge Analytica (CA).
These details were then used to help shape the way people voted in the US presidential election in 2016, it is claimed.
The revelation, made by a whistleblower who worked at CA has sparked calls for Governments to impose far stricter privacy laws on tech firms to protect data.
Mr Zuckerberg has yet to break his silence on the scandal, which has sent the price of Facebook shares falling.
It has also emerged today that Cambridge Analytica approached the Tories under David Cameron to offer their services, but they were turned down under Theresa May.
Mr Parakilas said Mr Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, would have known about these concerns – saying ‘they were no secret’.
He told the committee: ‘I was one of the people raising concerns. There was a lot of press at the time suggesting that this was potentially violating people’s privacy.
‘It was a known issue.
‘I made a map of all of Facebook’s vulnerability and included a list of potential bad actors which included foreign bad actors.
Sandy Parakilas gave evidence to MPs via a video link to Westminster but the politicians were forced to grill him through a low-quality image (pictured)
‘I said these are the areas where the company is exposed and user data is still at risk. I shared that around some of the people at the time.
‘Some of the executives I shared the presentation with are still there – senior executives in charge.’
He added: ‘I don’t know if Mark Zuckerberg would have been aware of specifically what I said but I think it was understood internally and externally there was risk with respect to the way Facebook. platform was handling the data.
‘There were concerns from the press and the public. I don’t think it was a secret this was a problem.’
He added: ‘I don’t think it was a secret this was a problem.’
Sandy Parakilas was giving evidence to the culture select committee via videolink (pictured) and said the media giant handed over ‘highly personal’ data on its users to app developers.
He said there was no policy of informing Facebook users that their data had been breached
And he said the wither ‘none or very very few’ people would have known their data had been shared with Cambridge Analytica.
He added: ‘The concern that I had was they built this platform that allowed these people to get hold of this data from people who had not explicitly authorised it.
‘In some cases they could read your messages – it was really personal data.
‘They allowed that to leave Facebook’s servers and there weren’t any controls once the data had left.’
A polo playboy, a wine millionaire and the ‘007 of the big data world’: How men behind Cambridge Analytica are linked to royalty, military and the Tory party
By Martin Robinson
Old Etonian ‘smoothie’ Nigel Oakes, 55, is one of the company’s four original founders who have links to royalty, the Tory party and the world’s most rich and powerful figures.
Mr Oakes was Lady Helen Windsor’s boyfriend in the 1980s and the couple are said to have appalled Her Majesty when Mr Oakes was caught being smuggled into St James’s Palace.
After they split Mr Oakes is said to have gate-crashed her 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle in 1985 only to be ejected by staff and was arrested for driving without insurance as the 700-guest party was in full swing.
Mr Oakes, now 55, started work running a mobile disco called ‘Traitor’ before working for advertising giants Saatchi and Saatchi before starting his own business with expertise in ‘behavioural influence’.
Alexander Nix, pictured at a polo event with promo girls, is one of four original founders of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company
Old Etonian ‘smoothie’ Nigel Oakes, 55, was Lady Helen Windsor’s boyfriend (pictured in 1985) and offended the Queen after Lady Helen smuggled him into St James’ Palace
Mr Oakes (left) met Alexander Nix after returning to London after working in Indonesia and they founded their company in 2005. Mr Nix, pictured last night, has being suspended after the Channel 4 investigation
Experts have described him as a ‘mysterious Etonian-smoothie’ whose access to personal data made him Donald Trump’s ‘weapon of mass persuasion’ during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Describing his work in a marketing journal 1992 he said: ‘We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler. We appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to agree on a functional level’.
One of the four original founders is wine millionaire Rollo Gabb (pictured)
In 2000 he left Indonesia under a cloud after being accused of being involved in ‘psychological warfare’ on behalf of President Abdurrahman Wahid to help rescue his reputation the country.
He later admitted to the Sunday Times that the incident ended up looking like ‘something out of James Bond’.
After returning to London he began working with Alexander Nix, the under fire boss of Cambridge Analytica suspended last night.
They formed CA’s parent company SCL Group in 2005 with Nigel’s younger brother Alexander Oakes and Rollo Gabb, son of wine pioneer Roger Gabb.
Mr Nix is a well known polo lover whose outgoing nature and charm has persuaded clients have spent small fortunes with Cambridge Analytica.
His success has helped turning Nix into a seriously rich man feted by the tech industry.
The 42-year-old, who spoke alongside Facebook chiefs at last year’s ‘Online Marketing Rockstars’ conference in Hamburg, keeps his Savile Row suits at a vast home in west London, which he and his girlfriend, Norwegian shipping heiress Caroline Paus, bought for £4.5million in February 2012.
Polo champion Alexander Nix (far left) had worked as a financier in Mexico before moving into the data business
There was no answer at Alexander Nix’s house in west London today
Cambridge Analytica is under fire over the Facebook scandal and Mr Nix (pictured on a poster stuck to its HQ) has admitted they will now lose a lot of money
He is said to have bragged about worked on 40 political campaigns in every corner of the world.
But the data firm suspended Mr Nix last night after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that CA had a pivotal role in the election of Mr Trump.
The CA board said that Mr Nix had been suspended ‘with immediate effect, pending a full, independent investigation’.
It said comments by Mr Nix recorded in secret filming by Channel 4 News and ‘other allegations’ did not represent ‘the values or operations of the firm’ and that his suspension ‘reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation’.
Former Cambridge Analytica staff have said the company would pursue ‘psychological warfare’ on behalf of clients.
One told The Guardian: ‘That’s what it is. Psyops. Psychological operations. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.
Storage crates were removed from Cambridge Analytica’s London headquarters (pictured) but it is not yet known who has ordered them to be taken away
Describing life there he said: ‘It was like working for MI6. Only it’s MI6 for hire. It was very posh, very English, run by an old Etonian and you got to do some really cool things. Fly all over the world. You were working with the president of Kenya or Ghana or wherever. It’s not like election campaigns in the west. You got to do all sorts of crazy s**t’.
In 2005 SCL Group reportedly claimed in a case study they are skilled enough to launch a ‘sophisticated campaign of mass deception’ to hoodwink the population.
They said that in the event of a smallpox outbreak in the UK they believe they could ensure Britons believed that it was a chemical accident rather than a deadly epidemic.
Cambridge Analytica was bankrolled to the tune of $15billion by US hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a major Republican donor.
The Observer said it was headed at the time by Steve Bannon, a top Trump adviser until he was fired last summer.
Fellow director Rollo Gabb, 45, is the son of Roger Gabb, a wine millionaire who founded the Western Wines distribution company.
In the early 2000s one in every 12 bottles of wine bought in the UK was sold via his business in supermarkets or on the high street.
His father donated £500,000 to the Tories in 2006 and is a well known Brexit supporter who signed a 5,000-signature strong letter to the Daily Telegraph with Mr Nix saying a vote to Leave will be good for British business.
Mr Gabb is an expert in fine wine, supplying it to chefs including Gordon Ramsay, and has also helped set up the FINO, Barrafina and Quo Vadis restaurants in London.
He also appears to have some eccentric ideas.
In 2013 he commissioned a 60ft trebuchet that hurled a car, a church organ and a giant petrol bomb to raise money for a church in Shropshire.
The novel idea came from Mr Gabb who said he wanted a catapult ever since he saw the medieval weapon being used 20 years ago.
Other shareholders include Lord Marland, a former Tory treasurer and trade envoy to David Cameron and Geoffrey Pattie. a former defence minister under Mrs ThatcherIts advisers also include a former rear admiral and an ex-Army colonel.
WHAT IS THE CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA SCANDAL?
Communications firms Cambridge Analytica has offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.
The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.
‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.
The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump
This meant the company was able to mine the information of 55 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.
This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.
This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.