Personal information of more than 50 million users of social media giant was 'misused' by customer


In March 2018, it was disclosed that over 50 million Facebook users had their personal information compromised by a third party, Global Science Research, who had legitimate access to the data for academic purposes. However they passed the data on to a third party, Cambridge Analytica, who (allegedly) used it for a completely different purpose.

In 2015 when Facebook discovered another company, Cambridge Analytica, had been passed their data they responded by suspending Cambridge Analytica from advertising on the social network.

Facebook's incident response initially focused a great deal on whether the term "data breach" was accurate in the content of the event with Facebook's VP and deputy general counsel stating it is "completely false" to call the event a data breach "Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent. People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked".

Facebook says it isn’t at fault. Data-harvesting has been a privacy concern for nearly a decade. Facebook’s user data is a powerful tool for marketing and research but this event begs the question, what responsibility does the social network have to its customers when an app maker allegedly breaks its terms and then lies about it?

Lawmakers in the US and Britain called on Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg to explain what happened.

In October 2018, UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) fined Facebook £500,000 ($645,000) for the data breach.


Courtenay Brammar

Experienced global enterprise risk and governance professional. Previously Vice President at Morgan Stanley, Deloitte Risk Advisory practitioner and PRMIA steering committee member in both London and New York.

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  • Cambridge Analytica
  • Facebook, Inc.

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