Cambridge Analytica denies accessing data on 87M Facebook users…claims 30M

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Cambridge Analytica is refuting a report by Facebook today that said Cambridge Analytica improperly attained data on up to 87 million users. Instead, it claims it only “licensed data for no more than 30 million people” from Dr. Aleksandr Kogan’s research company Global Science Research. It also claims none of this data was used in work on the 2016 U.S. presidential election when it was hired by the Trump campaign, and that upon notice from Facebook immediately deleted all raw data and began removing derivative data.

The whole statement from Cambridge Analytica can be found below. We’ve requested a comment from Facebook about the incongruencies in the two companies’ positions and will update if we received a response.

The he-said-she-said of the scandal seems to be amplifying as Facebook continues to endure criticism about weak data privacy policies and enforcement that led to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco that’s seen Facebook’s market cap drop nearly $ 100 billion.

NEW DELHI, INDIA – OCTOBER 9: Co-founder and chief executive of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg gestures as he announces the Internet.org Innovation Challenge in India on October 9, 2014 in New Delhi, India. Zuckerberg is on a two-day visit to India aimed at promoting the internet.org app, which allows people in underdeveloped areas to access basic online services. (Photo by Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Today Facebook announced the 87 million figure as a maximum number of people potentially impacted and said it would notify those users with an alert atop the News Feed. It also rewrote its Terms of Service today to clarify how it collects and works with outside developers, and announced sweeping platform API restrictions that will break many apps built on Facebook but prevent privacy abuses. Zuckerberg then held a conference call with reporters to give insight on all the news.

Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly denied assertions about interactions with Facebook data, but Facebook hasn’t backed down. Instead, Facebook has used Cambridge Analytica as an example of abuse it’s trying to combat, and as a justification for cracking down on developers both malicious and benign around the world.

Cambridge Analytica responds to announcement that GSR dataset potentially contained 87 million records
Today Facebook reported that information for up to 87 million people may have been improperly obtained by research company GSR. Cambridge Analytica licensed data for  from GSR, as is clearly stated in our contract with the research company. We did not receive more data than this.

We did not use any GSR data in the work we did in the 2016 US presidential election.

Our contract with GSR stated that all data must be obtained legally, and this contract is now a matter of public record. We took legal action against GSR when we found out they had breached this contract.When Facebook contacted us to let us know the data had been improperly obtained, we immediately deleted the raw data from our file server, and began the process of searching for and removing any of its derivatives in our system.

When Facebook sought further assurances a year ago, we carried out an internal audit to make sure that all the data, all derivatives, and all backups had been deleted, and gave Facebook a certificate to this effect.

We are now undertaking an independent third-party audit to demonstrate that no GSR data remains in our systems.

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Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook hasn’t felt ‘any meaningful impact’ in its usage or business in the wake of its privacy scandal

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Translation: Facebook will be fine.

People are really unhappy with Facebook and revelations that the company hasn’t been protecting user data the way it should. People just are’t unhappy enough to actually leave Facebook. At least that’s what CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.

During a conference call with reporters today, when Recode asked Zuckerberg if the backlash from the Cambridge Analytica fallout — including a #DeleteFacebook hashtag that has circulated online over the last few weeks — had hurt Facebook’s business or usage at all, he seemed to downplay concerns of a material shift.

“I don’t think there’s been any meaningful impact that we’ve observed,” he said. “But, look, it’s not good … It still speaks to people feeling like this was a massive breach of trust and that we have a lot of work to do to repair that.”

The idea that Facebook can go through this kind of backlash without a notable dent to its business is a testament to how big the service has become, and how consumers may not actually be as angry with the company around its privacy policies as it appears on the surface.

Still, investors have been concerned. Facebook stock is down more than 15 percent since the Cambridge Analytica drama came to light almost three weeks ago. The company is scheduled to report its first-quarter financial results on April 25.

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How to kick out companies that access your Facebook profile

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Facebook now lists in one place all the companies that you’ve given access to your profile info. This makes deleting this access a snap, right from your iPhone or iPad. You may have taken a silly Facebook quiz to find out which droid from Star Wars you most resemble. Just by doing so, you allowed […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Facebook says Cambridge Analytica may have collected data on up to 87M people

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Cambridge Analytica may have harvested the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users, Facebook’s CTO said on Wednesday, a number far higher than original media estimates.
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Facebook Details Several Privacy Changes Coming in the Wake of Cambridge Analytica Scandal

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Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Shroepfer today wrote a blog post outlining several changes that are being made to Facebook APIs to limit the amount of data apps can collect from Facebook users.

Changes are being made to the Events, Groups, and Pages API to cut down on what apps can see. With the Events API, for example, apps will no longer be able to access attendees or posts on the event wall, and the Groups API will no longer provide member lists or names associated with posts or comments.


Facebook will also now need to approve third-party access to both Groups and Pages APIs, and, as mentioned previously, all apps that access information like check-ins, photos, posts, and videos. Apps will no longer be able to see religious or political views, relationship status, education, work history, and tons more, all of which was previously readily available.

It is also no longer possible to search for a person’s phone number or email address to locate them on Facebook. Facebook says “malicious actors” have used this feature to “scrape public profile information” using data pulled from search and account recovery options.

For Android users, Facebook had been collecting call and message logs to enable Messenger features. Facebook says it will delete all logs older than a year and will upload less data to its servers going forward.

Starting next Monday, Facebook will also introduce a link at the top of the News Feed to let all users see what apps are installed and what information has been shared with those apps to make it easy for less technically savvy users to remove apps.

The Facebook privacy changes come in the wake of the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal, where Cambridge Analytica used personal data acquired from Facebook in an illicit manner by a third-party app to create targeted political advertisements during the 2016 election.


Originally, Facebook said Cambridge Analytica was able to collect data on 50 million Facebook users, but today, Facebook clarified that it actually had access to the Facebook data from up to 87 million people, with 70 million of those in the United States.

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Facebook restricts APIs, axes old Instagram platform amidst scandals

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Facebook is entering a tough transition period where it won’t take chances around data privacy in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, CTO Mike Schroepfer tells TechCrunch. That’s why it’s moving up the shut down of part of the Instagram API. It’s significantly limiting data available from or requiring approval for access to Facebook’s Events, Groups, and Pages APIs plus Facebook Login. Facebook is also shutting down search by email or user name and changing its account recovery system after discovering malicious actors were using these to scrape people’s data. “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 writes.

Instagram will immediately shut down part of its old platform API that was scheduled for deprecation on July 31st. TechCrunch first reported that developers’ Instagram apps were breaking over the weekend due to a sudden reduction in the API call limit. Instagram refused to comment, leading to developer frustration as their apps that analyze people’s followers and help them grow their audiences stopped working.

Now an Instagram spokesperson tells TechCrunch that “Effective today, Instagram is speeding up the previously announced deprecation of the Instagram API Platform” as part of Facebook’s work to protect people’s data. The APIs for follower lists, relationships, and commenting on public content will cease to function immediately. The December 11th, 2018 deprecation of public content reading APIs and the 2020 deprecation of basic profile info APIs will happen as scheduled, but it’s implemented rate limit reductions on them now.

The announcements come alongside Facebook’s admission that up to 87 million users had their data improperly attained by Cambridge Analytica, up from early estimates of 50 million. These users will see a warning atop their News Feed about what happened, what they should do, and see surfaced options for removing other apps they gave permissions to. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to take questions about today’s announcements during at 1:00pm Pacific conference call.

Regarding the Facebook APIs, here’s the abbreviated version of the changes and what they mean:

  • Events API will require approval for use in the future, and developers will no long be able to pull guest lists or post sto the event wall. This could break some event discovery and ticketing apps.
  • Groups API will require approval from Facebook and a Group admin, and developers won’t be able to pull member lists or the names and photos associated with posts. This will limit Group management apps to reputable developers only, and keep a single non-admin member of a closed Group from giving developers access.
  • Pages API will only be available to developers providing “useful services”, and all future access will require Facebook approval. This could heavily restrict Page management apps for scheduling posts or moderating comments.
  • Facebook Login use will require a stricter review process and apps won’t be able to pull users personal information or activity, plus they’ll lose access if after 3 months of non-use. Most login apps should still work, though, as few actually needed your religious affiliation or video watching activity, though some professional apps might not function without your work history
  • Search by phone number or email will no longer work, as Facebook says it discovered malicious actors were using them to pair one piece of information with someone’s identity, and cycling through IP addresses to avoid being blocked by Facebook. This could make it tougher for people in countries where people have similar names find each other. Of all the changes, this may be the most damaging to the user experience.
  • Account Recovery will no longer immediately show the identity of a user when someone submits their email or phone number to similarly prevent scraping. The feature will still work, but may be more confusing. Facebook believes all its users’ could have had their data scraped using the search and account recovery tricks.

Schroepfer says that Facebook’s goal is to lock things down, review everything, and then figure out which developers deserve access and whether any of the functionality should be restored. The announcements raise questions about why it took the Cambridge Analytica scandal for Facebook to take data privacy seriously. You can expect the House Energy and Commerce Committee may ask Mark Zuckerberg that when he comes to testify on April 10th.

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer

Facebook’s bold action to reform its APIs shows it’s willing to prioritize users above developers — at least once pushed by public backlash and internal strife. The platform whiplash could make developers apprehensive to build on Facebook in the future. But if Facebook didn’t shore up data privacy, it’d have no defense if future privacy abuses by outside developers came to light.

Schroepfer tells me Facebook is taking its responsibility super seriously and that company is upset that it allowed this situation to happen. At least he seems earnest. Last week I wrote that Facebook needd to make a significant act of contrition and humility if it wanted stabilize the sinking morale of its employees. These sweeping changes qualify, and could serve as a rallying call for Facebook’s team. Rather than sit with their heads in their hands, they have a roadmap of things to fix.

Still, given the public’s lack of understanding of APIs and platforms, it may be tough for Facebook to ever regain the trust broken by a month of savage headlines about the social network’s privacy negligence. Long-term, this souring of opinion could make users hesitant to share as much on Facebook. But given its role as a ubiquitous utility for login with your identity across the web, our compulsive desire to scroll its feed and check its notifications, and the lack of viable social networking alternatives, Facebook might see the backlash blow over eventually. Hopefully that won’t lead back to business as usual.

For more on the recent Facebook platform changes, read our other stories:

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Facebook will stop sharing as much of your personal data with people outside of Facebook

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Facebook is making sweeping changes to many of its most important APIs.

Facebook is aggressively cutting down on the amount of personal data third-party developers can collect from users as part of its response to Cambridge Analytica, the third-party data firm that collected personal information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced sweeping changes to many of its APIs — software plugins that allow outside businesses and developers to collect data directly from Facebook.

The changes are broad, and you can read all of the specifics at Facebook’s blog, but the gist is that Facebook will limit the types of data available through each API so that outsiders can’t see as much about people on Facebook.

“We believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer wrote in a blog post.

A few of the highlights:

  • Facebook will now need to approve every app that uses its login feature to collect information beyond basic profile data, like a user’s name and email. It will also stop apps from asking about ideological information, like a user’s religious or political views.
  • Facebook is expediting a plan to close its Instagram Platform API, which was originally planned to happen gradually over the next few years. Facebook says the “deprecation” of that API will take place “effective today.” Developers started noticing this earlier in the week, without a heads up from the company, but Facebook declined to comment on the changes until now.
  • You can’t search for people on Facebook using their email or phone number anymore. Facebook says “malicious actors” were abusing that feature, so it’s disabling it.
  • Facebook will start alerting users that their data may have been part of the Cambridge Analytica data set beginning Monday, April 9. The company will put a link at the top of every Facebook user’s News Feed to help them understand which third-party apps have their data. That alert will also include whether or not your data was part of the set obtained by Cambridge Analytica.

It will be interesting to see how these changes impact Facebook’s relationship with third-party developers just weeks before the company’s annual developer conference, F8. Many developers rely on Facebook APIs to sign up new users, or scale their own audience by asking people to share their Facebook friends list.

Almost all developers will find out about these changes today, and though the writing has been on the wall for weeks, it’s likely many will be caught off guard.

Wednesday’s update is just the latest in what has been an incredibly busy three-week stretch for Facebook. The company already rewrote its terms of service, is in the middle of a media blitz with CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer press questions and is cutting out data partners the company no longer wants to associate with.

Zuckerberg will also testify next week before a House Congressional committee to answer questions about the company’s data privacy practices.

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Facebook: Cambridge Analytica may have had up to 87 million users’ data

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Facebook is continuing to strengthen its data policies amid the Cambridge Analyica scandal, and today the company provided an update to its plans. In a blog post, CTO Mike Schroepfer revealed that Facebook information of up to 87 million people — mo…
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California bill would force Twitter and Facebook to identify bots

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Facebook and Twitter are plenty aware that Russian-backed actors have been using troll accounts to manipulate online discourse. Despite introducing transparency tools and purging lists of bots, California lawmakers don't think the companies are doing…
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Facebook says it will not extend GDPR privacy protections beyond EU

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Facebook has no plans to extend the user privacy protections put in place by the far-reaching General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, law to users of its social network around the globe, according to Reuters. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the news agency in an interview that Facebook would like to make such privacy guarantees “in spirit,” but would make exceptions. Zuckerberg declined to explain those exceptions, according to Reuters.

“We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” Zuckerberg said of which GDPR protections Facebook would not apply worldwide. He added that many of the protections provided by the GDPR are already part of his company’s privacy settings, including the…

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