3m Facebook Users Had Data Revealed Through Trait Quiz

By Nichole Schack 5 Min Read

Are you one of the 3 million Facebook users who recently took a personality quiz? If so, you may want to continue reading.

The psychology test called "myPersonality" was published on a website that ended up being non-secure. While the website did not include the user names of those who took the test, it still provided the users’ answers to the test, along with age, gender, and relationship status. Also for about 150,000 users, among the data leaked were also status updates. Make sure you are checking your privacy options when posting.

“This type of data is very powerful and there is real potential for misuse.” -Chris Sumner at the Online Privacy Foundation

The data leaked from myPersonality was only supposed to be avaiable to researchers the website had previously approved to gather the data in the first place. However, if you have access to the Web and know how to navigate an online search engine, a user name and password would be available to you that grants access to this personal information, meaning essentially anyone could access it.

“If at any time a username and password for any files that were supposed to be restricted were made public, it would be a consequential and serious issue. Not only is it a bad security practice, it is a profound ethical violation to allow strangers to access files.” -Pam Dixon at the World Privacy Forum

There was about 6 million total individuals that took the myPersonality test, and about half of those individuals allowed their information to be shared with researchers. That information was available to around 280 people that had to sign in to view results and use the data anonymously. Some of the people who had access to the results include employees of social media giant Facebook and various tech companies.

“We are currently investigating the app, and if myPersonality refuses to cooperate or fails our audit, we will ban it.” -Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of Product Partnerships

Once again, Facebook user data has been leaked like that of Cambridge Analytica, or the more recent scandal with user data being hacked by third parties using the Login with Facebook feature.

According to The Verge, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and this most recent data leak caused by myPersonality involved a researcher named Aleksandr Kogan, creator of thisisyourdigitallife (which caused Cambridge Analytica) and served as a researcher on the myPersonality undertaking.

“We are aware of an incident related to the My Personality app and are making enquiries.” -Spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office (told New Scientist)

Althought it is not known whether the personal information was accessed via the user name and password made readily available on the Internet, Facebook has still suspended the app as part of the ongoing investigation into the 200 apps that have been reported as suspicious.

A leak of 3 million is considerably smaller than the 87 million affected by Cambridge Analytica, however as these leaks happen we should be more aware as social media users that our information on the Internet can be dangerous. Be aware of privacy settings and change your passwords often. And most important: if you are going to share information, make sure it is going to a trusted source.

The New York Times gave a list of best practices for protecting yourself (and your friends, too) on Facebook:

  1. Get the details on your Facebook apps
  2. Verify Facebook privacy settings
  3. Read privacy policies on every website you sign up on
  4. Install a tracker blocker on your Internet browser
  5. Install an ad blocker on your Internet browser
  6. Clear your browsing data and history
  7. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
  8. Don’t be so quick to trust websites you haven’t heard of

The Internet is an awesome place to connect with loved ones, but it can also be dangerous, and precautions should be put in place when using it.

Image credit: Pexels

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