Amid all the discussion of Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many of you will have been asking yourself one question – how does this directly affect me?
The situation can be difficult to get your head around, though we’ve tried to simplify it all for you. In short, a whistleblower claimed data relating to individual Facebook users was harvested without permission and that information was used to target voters.
However, it has been tricky to find out what data was taken, and how it was used (if at all).
We’ve been given tips about effectively putting our Facebook accounts on lockdown, but so far a lot of the onus has been on the user to make proactive changes ourselves.
However, it now looks as though Facebook will be taking a big step itself - sooner rather than later.
According to USA Today, Facebook will be directly notifying any users whose data may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica.
The notification will come in the form of a message on your newsfeed – though it is likely to be far more detailed than a lot of messages provided to users on other matters.
It follows an announcement from Facebook about ensuring adverts, especially electoral ads, are more transparent after political and electoral influence came up in discussions of the Cambridge Analytica situation.
The first messages will be sent out today (9 April), though this is simply when the process will start with more more messages likely to follow. Meaning: just because you don’t get a message today doesn’t mean you’re definitely unaffected – it’s worth keeping an eye on your feed all week (not that most of us aren’t checking Facebook every five minutes anyway).
The overwhelming majority of the 87m users affected are in the United States, though there are reportedly more than a million UK users set to receive the message.
In addition to the detailed message relating to the breach, every Facebook user will be provided with a ‘Protecting Your Information’ message, which will give them a clear idea of what information they have shared with third-party apps and programmes.
They will still need to act to turn off access or change permissions, but all the information will be there in front of them.
The latest move follows concerted attempts from Facebook to make it easier for users to find privacy and other settings, and comes after the company’s CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence on the issue and expressed regret about not taking substantial steps earlier on.
As for whether this is a one-off move or the start of a broader effort to undo the past? We’ll find that all out in good time.