Just wait to see who was collecting the data and what exactly was leaked… Whoa, Nelly!
Did you ever take one of those Facebook personality quizzes? Millions of people have. One particular app collected highly sensitive data about who you are.
That app was poorly protected and hackers could gather the data from millions of users.
Three million Facebook users had their most intimate details exposed, it has emerged, as a new data protection scandal hits the social network.
A popular personality app failed to provide adequate protection to the ‘anonymous’ data of participants, the latest of a string of security breaches.
The quiz, called myPersonality, collected highly sensitive data – including psychometric test results that reveal how neurotic or extrovert an individual may be.
Investigators found the information was poorly protected for four years and gaining access to it was relatively easy.
And it actually gets worse.
The myPersonality app was run by a highly respected institution — the University of Cambridge.
The myPersonality app has now been suspended as one of 200 Facebook has removed from its social network.
Run by the University of Cambridge, the myPersonality site was founded in 2007 and allowed users to take real psychometric tests and obtain their results instantly.
The leaked information gave access to the ‘Big Five’ personality scores of 3.1 million users, according to a report from New Scientist, who broke the news.
These have been defined as openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism – sometimes abbreviated to OCEAN.
‘This type of data is very powerful and there is real potential for misuse,’ Chris Sumner at the Online Privacy Foundation told New Scientist.
‘Gee, what could possibly go wrong with hackers getting that information?’ we ask sarcastically.
It was a massive data breach.
More than six million people took part in the study overall, and 40 per cent of these participants decided to share their Facebook profile information with the researchers.
According to the University of Cambridge’s website for the myPersonality database, this resulted in ‘one of the largest social science research databases in history.
The data was supposed to be collected and the users would be anonymous. After taking the quiz, each user was given a unique Identification number that brought all of their information together.
Questions have been raised because this system didn’t quite turn out to be as anonymous as it was supposed to be.
‘This data was anonymised and samples of it were shared with registered academic collaborators around the world through the myPersonality project,’ according to the site.
As a result of the leak, 22 million status updates from over 150,000 users could be seen.
It also showed personal data such as age, gender and relationship status from 4.3 million people…
…’You could re-identify someone online from a status update, gender and date,’ said Pam Dixon at the World Privacy Forum.
The database was a huge success for academia, enabling the publication of 45 scientific papers.
The serious security flaws, however, have made the database a privacy catastrophe.
Access to the database was restricted and people had to register as a collaborator. This resulted in 280 people from 150 institutions formally accessing it.
These included universities and companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
Source: Daily Mail
So, a Social Media giant and other tech companies that enable us to access news, also knows the private personality data of over 3 million users.
That’s just fan-freaking-tastic.
How could they possibly use that against you?
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