At least 87 million Facebook profiles were harvested by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica starting in 2014. Here’s how you can find out if your information was leaked, and how to delete it.
Facebook has launched a tool to allow its users to check if they were affected by the huge data leak to Cambridge Analytica (CA).
Those worried that their or their friend's data may have been improperly shared can check by clicking on this page while logged into their Facebook account, or search for “How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?” in the network's help centre.
The data leak scandal arose in March, when a co-founder of CA spilled the beans of its illicit inner workings to British newspaper The Observer.
Data scientist Christopher Wylie, 28, revealed that the company worked with a university professor to harvest data from millions of Facebook users and their online friends via a quiz app. The information was later used to influence international politics.
It was eventually revealed that at least 87 million users were affected by the data breach, including 2.7 million Europeans, of which over one million were based in the UK. However, CA claims it received data from only 30 million Facebook profiles.
Deleting your data
If you have shared your data with third-party apps and they have stored it outside the platform, you cannot destroy that information, short of launching legal action. But there is one sure-fire way to keep third parties’ hands off your personal data in the future – by deleting your account.
To do that, you need to log into the profile you want to remove, before navigating to https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account and clicking “Delete My Account”.
According to Facebook, it may take up to 90 days for all your information to be deleted, including your posts, photos and other data. During that time, it will be inaccessible to other people using the site, but private messages you have sent to other users will still remain.
But this looks set to change. In a statement to Techcrunch, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed an “Unsend” feature was in the works that would allow users to erase their messages.
“We will now be making a broader delete message feature available,” they said on Friday. “This may take some time."