The last couple of weeks have been tough for Facebook, as it reels from the public scrutiny it has received over its lackadaisical protection of personal data. In an effort to make amends the company is contacting the 87 million users whose data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica, the outfit that has come under fire over the way its business operates and the ways in which it has used data to manipulate voters in elections around the world.

Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said that all affected users would receive a message through their news feeds letting them know about the use of their data. In the meantime the company has released a tool users can use to check for themselves whether their information was passed on Cambridge Analytica.

The tool can be found by clicking this link.

For most users this would have come about if they had previously downloaded the “This is your digital life” app. However, as more is revealed about the misuse of Facebook’s services by Cambridge Analytica, it would seem as if a users personal data has been passed on if a friend on the social network has previously used the app. In some instances, this information includes personal messages sent over the platform.

The app was used as a ‘personality quiz’, and was created by an academic, Dr Aleksandr Kogan, working at Cambridge University’s Psychometric Centre. The data obtained by Kogan was then sold to Cambridge Analytic. This data was then used to build profiles of voters that have formed part of election influencing software.

The company was active during Trump’s election, and the UK’s European Referendum. Leading some in the UK to question the validity of Britain’s Brexit.

It has been reported by Open Democracy that Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, Strategic Communication Laboratories, owned by the Billionaire Robert Mercer, is also involved with military propaganda, and has previously undertaken operations in Russia on behalf of NATO.

The use of data collected by social media sites is coming under increasing scrutiny. Facebook claims it will roll out features to its users in the near future that will give them more control over their personal and the ways in which it is used. 

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