Why Am I Getting All These Facebook Privacy Notifications?


This spring, millions of Facebook users were notified that their personal data may have been leaked or otherwise misused. And while Cambridge Analytica was partly responsible, Facebook recently admitted that hundreds of other developers may have had inappropriate access to the info as well.

What happened?   

While conducting consumer research back in 2014, a consulting firm Cambridge Analytica collected data from Facebook users via quizzes on applications called myPersonality and This Is Your Digital Life. Before taking the quizzes, users agreed to privacy settings that told them that information like users’ friends, age, gender, location, and status updates were to be gathered. However, the fine print on these settings allowed for the information to be shared with other researchers.


Cambridge Analytica then stored the data in a manner that made it easily accessible. Although they obtained the information in a legal manner and obeyed Facebook’s privacy settings, it was put onto a website where it could be accessed by other researchers. It was as if Cambridge Analytica stored the information in a vault that had a special key meant just for researchers. However, they then left the key in the door for four years and allowed more groups access to the data than intended. Since these groups, such as companies and politicians, could view the private data, they could use it in advertising and political campaigns against users' knowledge. This was not what Facebook users thought would be done with the data from simple personality quizzes.

What is being done to fix it?   

• Cambridge Analytica and CEO Alexander Nix have been suspended from Facebook and from conducting research via Facebook.

• Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has testified in front of Congress to apologize.

• Facebook has implemented tighter restrictions and upped its privacy settings, being sure to keep users informed of any changes.

How can I protect myself in the future?   

• Avoid clicking on things like personality quizzes or games.

• Adjust your privacy controls under “Settings” and “Privacy.”

• Read the fine print when clicking “I Agree.”


To see if your information was shared in the breach, visit the Facebook Help Center.