If you’ve been following the news over the past week, it’s no surprise that Facebook is in a world of trouble. Trust among users and stockholders is at an all-time low in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, one which saw over 50 million Facebook users’ data illegally gathered and ostensibly weaponized in the 2016 election.
Thanks to former Cambridge Analytica employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie, we now know that the data firm utilized third-party apps—namely personality tests—to create psychographic profiles of individual users and customize content aimed to affect them politically. Third-party profiles gaining access to your data is no new thing—you essentially sign-off on it when you play certain games or take online quizzes via Facebook.
The problem with Cambridge Analytica is that it also harvested the data of all those users’ friends who had provided access.
The result is the biggest data breach in the Age of Social Media. Upon the news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook’s stock went into a freefall and has yet to recover. The outrage has been compounded with the revelations that Cambridge Analytica had been heavily involved in blackmail tactics to influence political campaigns, Facebook logging smartphone data, and the clumsy and detached response from Facebook’s top executives.
The social media giant initially responded with boilerplate crisis PR jargon, when it was glaringly apparent that a large portion of its user base was understandably freaking out. Mark Zuckerberg has been on a bit of an apology tour in recent days, but with people deleting their Facebooks en masse and tumbling market valuation, it appears too little, too late.
So what do we learn from this? Protect your accounts, and remove third-party apps from accessing them. Here’s a helpful guide to delete the litany of applications that you may not know are currently collecting your data.