- The number of users whose information was improperly shared with research firm Cambridge Analytica was previously estimated by reports to be 50 million.
- Facebook issued the number in a lengthy post by CTO Mike Schroepfer about its privacy changes, including restricting third-party app access and deleting old logs of messages.
- Media reports last month alleged a U.K.-based researcher collected the data from Facebook users when just 270,000 users downloaded a psychology quiz app.
By Sara Salinas
Facebook said on Wednesday the number of users whose information was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica is 87 million — higher than previously reported estimates of 50 million — and said “most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped.”
Facebook issued the number in a lengthy post by CTO Mike Schroepfer about its privacy changes, which include restricting third-party app access and deleting phone call and text information that’s over a year old.
Facebook also said it’s ending a feature that lets users search for a profile using a phone number or personal email, and suggested that bad actors have abused the ability and taken information from personal profiles as a result.
“Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way,” Schroepfer said in the post. “So we have now disabled this feature.”
Cambridge Analytica was accused of improperly gaining access to personal information of Facebook users, spurring legal probes and changes to Facebook’s privacy policies.
Media reports last month alleged a UK-based researcher collected the data from Facebook users when just 270,000 users downloaded a psychology quiz app that requested access to their personal data. The New York Times and the Observer reported in March that as many as 50 million Facebook users had their data improperly shared.
Facebook’s policies regarding third-party apps at the time allowed apps to request the data of users who downloaded the apps and those users’ friends, impacting a much larger swath of people.
Facebook has said since that it ended that practice years ago.
Schroepfer’s post on Wednesday outlined specific ways in which Facebook is restricting the types and amounts of data third-party apps can access about users.
The company said, for example, that third-party apps will no longer be able to see who attended your Facebook event or posts made in the event page.
Facebook is also cutting third-party access to the member lists for groups and the personal info attached to posts in those groups.
“We will also no longer allow apps to ask for access to personal information such as religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom friends lists, education and work history, fitness activity, book reading activity, music listening activity, news reading, video watch activity, and games activity,” Schroepfer said in the post.