Facebook’s ongoing charm offensive following the Cambridge Analytica scandal took a hit this week as the company revealed in a blog post that far more users than originally reported may have been affected by the breach.
Initial reports, such as this one from the New York Times, estimated that more than 50 million users had their private information harvested by the political data firm. But now Facebook says that up to 87 million people may have been affected. We don’t have to do any complicated math to see how shocking of a correction that is.
“In total,” said Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer in a blog post on Wednesday, “we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the US — may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.”
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Facebook will put a link at the top of every user’s News Feed on Monday, April 9th, allowing them to see which third-party apps they have used and delete apps they no longer want to access their data. Users who had data shared with Cambridge Analytica will be alerted to that as well.
Facebook is scrambling to dig itself out of this hole, but a disturbing revelation like this will certainly undercut the company’s recent effort, such as Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to testify before Congress. Shortly before the 87 million number was revealed, Facebook also announced that it would update its terms of service and data policy (pending feedback from users). Unfortunately, these changes don’t actually effect how much data the social network collects from you — you’ll just be slightly more clear on the amount of data that is being collected.