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STT: Nearly 20K Finnish users part of unauthorised Facebook data drop to Cambridge Analytica

New reports indicate that significantly more Facebook users than previously believed had their information shared with a third party without their permission.

Lasinen kerrostalo kadunkulmassa.
Cambridge Analytica in London. Image: Andy Rain / EPA-EFE

According to beleaguered social media giant Facebook, just under 20,000 Finnish users have had their information shared with the data mining firm Cambridge Analytica without their permission.

Facebook spokesman Peter Münster told the Finnish news agency STT via email that profile information of 19,693 users in Finland may have wound up in the unauthorised data trove handed over to the UK-based company.

Facebook has come under heavy scrutiny following reports that an app developer had handed over user data to Cambridge Analytica without authorisation. Although users, as they participated in Facebook activities like online quizzes, volunteered their details to the app developer by agreeing to the application's terms of service, they did not give permission for information harvested from their profiles to be passed on to third parties such as Cambridge Analytica. Reports also suggest that the app scraped data from the friends of quiz participants.

More profiles compromised

Cambridge Analytica is believed to have used the information it acquired about users to design pinpoint-targeted campaigns to allegedly sway the outcome of elections in the United States and other countries. The firm is also alleged to have played a role in the outcome of the UK’s Brexit vote and was said to have worked for the campaign to leave the EU.

Facebook previously indicated that as many as 50 million users may have had their information shared without their knowledge. However on Wednesday, it increased the estimated number of users affected to 87 million.

After a public backlash following the revelations of unauthorised data-sharing, Facebook promised closer monitoring of third-party developers and said that it had updated users’ security settings. It also indicated that it would prevent apps from seeing whom users have invited to events, and would block third-party access to information about user groups, membership registers and group content.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has refused to answer questions by British MPs about the platform’s role in the scandal, however he is due to appear before the US Congress next week.

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