The bombshell revelation that a Facebook data breach compromised 50 million people’s personal data to help a Trump campaign data firm is particularly disturbing because the vast majority of the victims did not even opt in to the service that took the data. Facebook allowed a shady app to mine the data of all friends of people who used the app, turning a paltry 270,000 app downloads into a far-reaching database of 50 million people’s Facebook data. No matter how good your privacy settings are, your information can still get sold out because of your high school friends’ stupid Farmville habits.
(While the data firm Cambridge Analytica compromised 50 million accounts, they’re just one thousands of Facebook advertisers. The real number of compromised Facebook users is probably in the hundreds of millions.)
Tech bros will insist that this was not a ‘hack’ or a ‘breach’ of Facebook. They’re right, but it’s worse. Facebook full-on gave your data away to any criminal willing to pay, without hackers having to bother infiltrating their systems. Facebook also knew for more than two years that the data they provided had been illegally downloaded, stolen, and sold on the black market, and they sat on their hands and did nothing about this violation of user privacy.
Mark Zuckerberg just posted his weaksauce non-apology on Facebook, after five whole days of silently hiding under his desk. “In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access,” the CEO says, insisting that apps “could no longer ask for data about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app.”
But you can’t control the sort of shady lawbreakers Facebook might sell your data to. You can, however, limit how much of your data is available to them on Facebook.
How To Unlink Apps From Your Facebook Account
This is the scandal at hand here. Your friends’ apps were able to siphon your data without your permission. Facebook supposedly no longer allows this. But when I checked which apps accessed my Facebook data, I had never even heard of several of them.
Removing third party apps from your Facebook is best done on a desktop computer. First, log into Facebook. Click on the non-descript black triangle in the top right corner of your screen, and select Settings. Then go to the right side of your screen and click Apps. You’ll see which apps have access to your Facebook data.
You can shut them all off if you want. Under the “Apps, Websites, and Plug-Ins” field, click Edit. Then click Disable Platform to stop
Or you can just disable the ones you want to get rid of. To disable an app from getting your Facebook data, hover over the app with your mouse and click X. From here on it’s nothing but Tinder for me.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal may be overblown in terms of determining the outcome of the 2016 election. But it is rightly a humongous scandal that Facebook give out our data to criminals without our consent (okay, alleged criminals). The days of thinking that surveillance-based online advertising is just some innocuous tool to sell us shoes and handbags are over, as this game is beijng played by shadier people than we ever realized.