Facebook data breach affected up to 87 million users

Firm revises the number whose details were improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica

The entrance to Facebook’s corporate headquarters  in Menlo Park, California, the US. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

The entrance to Facebook’s corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the US. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

 

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday that the personal information of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, up from a previous media estimate of more than 50 million.

Most of the 87 million people whose data was shared with Cambridge Analytica, which worked on US president Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, were in the US, Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer wrote in a blog post.

Facebook said that following the scandal it was taking steps to restrict the personal data available to third-party app developers.

The world’s largest social media company has been hammered by investors and faces anger from users, advertisers and politicians after a series of scandals about fake news stories, election-meddling and privacy issues.

Last month, Facebook acknowledged that personal information about millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, which was an accredited third-party software developer on the platform.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will testify about the matter next week before the US House energy and commerce committee, the panel said on Wednesday.

Shares in Facebook were down 1.4 per cent on Wednesday to $153.90 (about €126). They are down more than 16 per cent since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.

The previous estimate of more than 50 million came from two newspapers, the New York Times and London’s Observer, based on their investigations of Cambridge Analytica.

Mr Schroepfer did not provide details on how Facebook determined its higher estimate, but he said Facebook would tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

A representative from Cambridge Analytica could not immediately be reached for comment.

The British-based consultancy has denied wrongdoing. It says it engaged a university professor “in good faith” to collect Facebook data in a manner similar to how other third-party app developers have harvested personal information.

The scandal has kicked off investigations by Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office, the US Federal Trade Commission and by some 37 US state attorneys general.

Nigeria’s government will also investigate allegations of improper involvement by Cambridge Analytica in that country’s 2007 and 2015 elections, a presidency spokesman said on Monday. – Reuters