In a recent article by The Verge it is reported that Facebook data on more than 3 million people who took a personality quiz was published onto a poorly protected website where it could have been accessed by unauthorized parties, according to New Scientist. We at the society found it unsettling that the data contained Facebook users’ answers to a personality trait test which although did not include users names, did contain age, gender, and relationship status. It was shocking to learn how for 150,000 people, it even contained their status updates.
All data was supposed to be accessible only to approved researchers, New Scientist found that a username and password that granted access to the data could be found enabling anyone to download the trove of personal information. This is an example of information security leaks which we at The Society prioritize very seriously to never allow through use of our decentralized blockchain technology.
The basics sound remarkably similar to what happened with Cambridge Analytica, which gained access to information from more than 87 million Facebook users thanks to a personality test called thisisyourdigitallife. In both cases, the tests were initially made by University of Cambridge researchers. And both even had one researcher in common: Aleksandr Kogan.
Kogan was the creator of thisisyourdigitallife, and according to New Scientist, he was listed as part of the myPersonality project until mid-2014; it sounds as though the project began around 2009. The University of Cambridge told New Scientist that myPersonality was started before its creator joined the university and did not go through its ethics review process.
Although It is not known whether the data was improperly accessed using the publicly available username and password, it is reported that a Facebook spokesperson told New Scientist that the app was being investigated and would be banned if it “refuses to cooperate or fails our audit.” As part of its ongoing investigation into misuse of user data, Facebook said this morning that it had so far suspended 200 apps pending review. That included myPersonality.
While a leak of 3 million users’ data is far smaller than the 87 million obtained by Cambridge Analytica, the story still serves as another warning of how easily this information can spread around and just how detailed it can be. One of the bigger issues here is that, even though the data was supposed to be anonymized, New Scientist points out that it easily could have been re-identified using the extra Facebook information attached to each personality test.
This article truly reflects the demand for our blockchain social platform The Society and how the stage is more set up everyday for decentralized infrastructures. We at The Society found this article really interesting because it sets the stage very well for what we have in the works. Picture the platform that will be blockchain based to ensure your privacy and profit from all content shared on it.
We recommend reading the full article available here