Currently, more than 100 billion people are active Facebook users. In 2015, a political consulting firm known as Cambridge Analytica began using a third party app to harvest data from approximately 50 million of these users in efforts to target them with misinformation and manipulative advertising. This is thought to have influenced the 2016 American presidential election, though its impact on voter decisions has yet to be quantified.
Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Quick Takes
During the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia, it came to light that the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had gained access to millions of Facebook users’ personal data and used it to benefit the Trump campaign.
But what is Cambridge Analytica?
Founded in 2013 by former financial analyst Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica exists primarily to find, assess, and use information to influence consumer and voter behavior. Beginning in 2015, during the 2016 presidential election cycle, the firm acquired personal information about roughly 50 million Facebook users and used it to manipulate voter behavior and influence the outcome of the election.
According to Facebook, the firm was able to do so by using an app called “This is Your Digital Life”. By allowing this third party app permission to access their personal information, more than 270,000 Facebook users unwittingly gave the firm information about their:
- Friend and family network
- Likes and preferences
- Public profile information
- Birth date
- Current location/city
Through those 270,000 users who gave the app permission to access their information, it also gathered that of their Facebook friends, causing that number to swell to 50 million people. All of this information was allegedly used to create audience profiles and use what the firm refers to as “behavioral microtargeting” to sway users’ political decisions in the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook Can Tell You if Cambridge Analytica Accessed Your Information
Facebook has finally released a tool that allows you to see if the political consulting firm accessed your personal profile and information or that of your friends. One of the quickest ways to get your questions answered is to type “Cambridge Analytica” into the Help Center. Under the heading “Was my information shared?” you will be able to see whether you allowed the app access to your account and whether your data was mined due to a friend’s use of the app.
It is important to note that Cambridge Analytica may have gained access to your information regardless of whether or not you actually used the “This is Your Digital Life” app.
While Facebook cannot tell exactly whether you were the subject of targeted advertising or misinformation, it can tell you whether Cambridge Analytica gained access to your information, friends list, etc. You can access the tool by clicking here.
What Can I Do if My Information Was Shared with Cambridge Analytica?
Because not much is known about how the information was used in regards to individual Facebook users, legal recourse remains a mystery. However, if you have any concerns regarding the firm, your privacy on Facebook, or how your information might have been used, we are happy to help and answer your questions.
Chicago Consumer Lawyers at Your Service
Atlas Consumer Law is a firm made up of people just like you. We are committed to using our gifts, abilities, education, and experience to the benefit of average people (and Facebook users). Our firm exists to stick up for consumers when larger, more powerful entities seek to take advantage of them through force, deceit, or other corrupt behavior.
We have been given a 10/10 Superb rating by Avvo, included on the Super Lawyers lineup, and earned an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau. By matching our dedication to our clients’ success with personalized client service, we have distinguished ourselves as one of the best consumer law firms in Chicago.
Call (312) 313-1613 today to schedule your free consultation and find out how we can best serve you.