In what could be considered as yet another major security breach, the Facebook data of more than 3 million people lay exposed on a poorly protected website where it could have been possibly accessed by unauthorized parties. According to a New Scientist report, the potential leakage of the data comprised various Facebook users who undertook a “personality quiz” test divulging info about their personality traits.
Although the quiz didn’t entail users’ names, in many instances, it did ask for their age, gender, and relationship status, etc. So much so, it even contained status updates of around 150,000 people.
According to New Scientist, the data was gathered by a psychology test called myPersonality. The creators of myPersonality let any researcher (who agreed to use the data anonymously) sign up for accessing the information that had been collected. According to the report, a total of 280 people were given the access, including employees of major tech companies as well as Facebook.
New Scientist found that despite the fact that all that data was supposed to be accessible only to approved researchers via a collaborative website, a username and password could be found “within a minute” through an online search. Which means, that anyone could download a smorgasbord of personal information from anywhere in the world.
This reported leak could be another setback for Facebook which is already grappling with the Cambridge Analytica scandal where the British “political consulting” firm gained access to information of more than 87 million Facebook users via a personality test called thisisyourdigitallife.
It is interesting to note how personality test apps are being used as tools to harvest vital user information on Facebook.
As of now, it is not firmly established whether the exposed data was tampered with using the publicly accessible usernames and passwords. However, a Facebook spokesperson privy to the development told New Scientist that the app in question (myPersonality) was being investigated and could be possibly banned if it “refuses to cooperate and fails our audit.”
Moreover, Facebook has so far suspended over 200 apps (including myPersonality) that are pending review as part of its ongoing investigation into misuse of user data.
Although the reported leak of 3 million users’ data is far smaller than the shocking 87 million user data unscrupulously obtained by Cambridge Analytica, it serves as a grim reminder of how a user’s personal information can be spread around on the internet.
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