News outlets have recently reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm, improperly acquired private information from approximately 50 million Facebook users’ profiles without users’ knowledge or consent.
Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating how Facebook users’ private information was used by Cambridge Analytica, and whether Facebook failed to take reasonable measures to secure users’ private information.
The New York Times and The Guardian reported that Cambridge Analytica acquired this data by partnering with researcher Aleksandr Kogan to create a Facebook application called “Thisisyourdigitallife.” The app administered a “personality” test, and paid U.S. voters who installed the app to answer a series of questions about themselves. Approximately 270,000 individuals installed the app.
Kogan was able to collect data from approximately 50 million Facebook “friends” of these 270,000 individuals, even though these other users had not agreed to connect to the app. Kogan then provided the private information from these users to Cambridge Analytica. The New York Times has reported that Cambridge Analytica used the data to construct psychological profiles of the users and determine messaging to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook knew of Kogan and Cambridge Analytica harvesting information from millions of users as far back as 2015. However, Facebook did not inform users at the time that their information had been accessed in this manner. Facebook has also stated that Kogan gained access to user’s private information “through the proper channels that governed all developers on Facebook at that time.” Facebook noted that Kogan’s sharing of this data with Cambridge Analytica, an unauthorized third party, was prohibited at the time.
Government authorities, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office, and a coalition of state Attorneys General, have reportedly launched investigations into Facebook’s privacy practices.
Minami Tamaki attorneys have experience representing individuals who have been harmed by privacy breaches. If you believe your private information was gathered by Cambridge Analytica without your knowledge or consent, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.