What to do if Facebook says your info was used by Cambridge Analytica

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There’s more data to protect than just your Facebook profile.
USA TODAY

With Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg set to testify before Congress on the scandal involving data firm Cambridge Analytica, the social network is informing individual users their profiles may have been used for the firm’s political targeting without their consent.

Starting at noon ET Monday, Facebook was scheduled to begin alerting users if they were some of the estimated 87 million whose profiles Facebook says were scraped and improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. (That political ad targeting firm says it used only 30 million Facebook profiles obtained from a psychology app developer.) 

What users will do with that information boils down to engaging in the boring but eye-opening privacy clean-ups many have already embarked on, finding all the apps that had access to your info and then cutting this access off. Bad news: with the data leak over three years old, it’s too late to take what’s already out there back.

Were you notified by Facebook your profile was part of the Cambridge Analytica leak? Write to us at techcomments@usatoday.com.

What is Facebook doing?

All users will get a message at the top of their News Feed with a link detailing apps tied to Facebook, or that you’ve deleted, and how those apps used your data.

How will I know if I’ve been affected?

If your data was misused, Facebook will direct you to its Help Center featuring a tool letting you know how data may have been misused. The scandal not only impacts users who took the personality quiz “This Is Your Digital Life,” but friends of those users.

What should I do about it?

Regardless of whether you were affected, you should check what apps are tied to Facebook. Go to Settings, then Apps and Websites to figure out what apps you have granted permission to connect to Facebook.

For those users impacted by Cambridge Analytica, the tool will give them a good idea of how their data has been used.  

However, it’s too late for users to do anything to fix it.

“The simple reason that Facebook users can do very little is that Facebook, not the users, has the data and determines who gets the data,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. 

More: With all we know about Facebook, should you still ‘sign in with Facebook’?

More: Here’s how to protect your personal info on Facebook

More: How to delete all those Facebook apps you probably have

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