We continue throwing wood to the FacebookGate fire . The recent scandals related to the obtaining personal data from the Cambridge Analytica Researchers have gone around the world, to the point that the veryAmerican to give explanations. It seemed that the thing had calmed down, but nothing could be further from reality.
More of Six million people participated in a test called myPersonality . Surely you know some similar. They are applications within Facebook that tell you what is your personality based on a series of answers and data from your personal profile . Of those six million, three agreed to share their personal Facebook data with researchers at Cambridge Analytica -possibly without knowing it or being aware of what that implied-.
The data was anonymised , but they were published on a website where academics from the University of Cambridge and other researchers could access them. For it they needed some credentials that, by chance, have been available on the Internet over the past four years on GitHub. In a nutshell, anyone could have accessed them if he wanted to.
As they point in, more of 280 people from almost 150 institutions had access to the data . Among them are researchers, universities and staff of companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. The management of the data was carried out by David Stillwell and Michal Kosinski, in addition to Alexandr Kogan -name already known in the case of Cambridge Analytica-, which was also part of the project.
As they point from the source, “Each user in the data set received a unique identification, which related data such as age, gender, location, status updates, personality questionnaire results and more” . In other words, Any person with some expertise would have managed to know to which person the anonymized data was referring .
But beware, that goes for more. myPersonality was a personality test , so the data about the user’s personality were also available. “The credentials gave access to the personality scores of the” Big Five * “of 3.1 million users. These scores are used in psychology to evaluate the characteristics of people, such as awareness, kindness and neuroticism ” , point from NewScientist.
For its part, the University of Cambride has said that myPersonality was created before David Stillwell joined her . “He did not go through our ethical approval processes” , affirm from the institution. Facebook deleted the app on April 7, so no one can already access it. Anyway, we will have to see how this new event affects both the Zuckerberg company and the university itself, which has already confirmed that “Neither own nor control the data” . We’ll be alert.
* The Big Five of Psychology are extraversion, openness to experience (openness to change), responsibility, cordiality, kindness or affability and emotional instability or neuroticism