Facebook vaguely responds to accusations of a major privacy breach associated with Cambridge Analytica

As you may have heard, Facebook has been in the midst of a security breach controversy associated with Cambridge Analytica and the U.S presidential campaign. Over the past week, the #detelefacebook has been trending all around the world. Furthermore, Facebook's shares have plummeted and continue to do so during this time. In fact, according to the CNBC report Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the company, has sold  1.14 million shares as part of regularly scheduled programs.

New York Times and Observer broke the story regarding the security breach on 17 and 18 March respectively. Reports stated that Facebook might have been aware of the fact that a company known as Cambridge Analytica exploited up to 50 million users on their platform. Further stamens from Facebook and the whistleblower Christopher Wylie shed light on how all of this might have happened.

Paul Grewal, VP & Deputy General Counsel at Facebook, released a statement on 16 March regarding the data breach accusations, which allegedly occurred in late 2015. Paul Grewal also states that the app used to harvest personal information, known as thisisyourdigitallife, was developed by a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan. Most users that fell prey to this were promised a money prize if they fill out the thisisyourdigitallife survey. Once the survey was complete Cambridge Analytica received additional information about users. They gain access to the user's likes on Facebook, their home address, and their friend list.

A former employee at Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie, stated that with the help of special algorithm, the company was able to gather around 50 million records in just a few months. On average, a single survey provided about 300 records. In turn, all such information was used to determine the way U.S citizens would vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Further investigations have revealed that Cambridge Analytica has, in fact, been linked to the Donald Trump presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum. As it turns out, the owner of the company is an open Donald Trump supporter and a billionaire Robert Mercer. Additionally, the Observer investigation found out that Steve Bannon, a major piece in the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and later a White House Chief Strategist, has been leading Cambridge Analytica at the very same time that the data breach took place.

Even more concerning claims have come out of the BBC and Chanel 4 News probe. It appears that Cambridge Analytica, and its parent company The Strategic Communications Laboratories, have been instrumental in the recent Czech and Italian elections. Further statements allege that they have also been a part of Ukraine's Orange Revolution as well.

A Facebook report issued on 17 March indicates that the social network distances itself from the issue at hand, and is cutting all ties with Cambridge Analytica while removing the thisisyourdigitallife app from their platform. Also, the company instructed involved parties to delete all information regarding their users. However, there is still distrust concerning Facebook's actual involvement; thus, the British and U.S authorities have launched their investigations regarding the breach. Paul-Olivier Dehaye, who, according to the Guardian is directly involved in the investigation has stated: “It (Facebook) has a legal obligation to inform regulators and individuals about this data breach, and it hasn’t. It’s failed time and time again to be open and transparent.”

As of now, further investigations are taking place. Since Facebook's stance on the issue is vague at best, we highly advise users to check their accounts using the setting panel. By doing so, you will find out what apps are linked to your account and how much information they can obtain at any given time. Furthermore, we encourage Internet users to refrain from all suspicious apps or messages that you encounter on Facebook because that could lead to virtual security problems.

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