By Abhimanyu Ghoshal
Facebook says it will notify 87 million users of its service that they affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the data analytics firm snap up their personal information through the social network to influence voters.
The news comes ahead of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appointment to testify before Congress this week, over the company’s role in enabling Cambridge Analytica to gather data and profile users.
It’s worth noting that the 87 million figure may not be entirely accurate: according to Zuckerberg, Facebook came up with it by calculating the maximum number of friends that users could have had while the personality quiz app that Cambridge Analytica had built was being actively used to collect data. But Facebook says it doesn’t have logs dating back to that time, so it can’t be sure exactly how many people were affected.
What’s more, whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who worked at Cambridge Analytica and exposed the data collection exercise, told NBC that the number of affected users could be higher than that, and that the data might be stored in Russia, as data scientist Aleksander Kogan, who worked on the quiz app in collaboration with the company, traveled there frequently from the UK during that time.
Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that it had data on only 30 million Facebook users.
Facebook has been going through arguably one of the roughest periods in its history, having been rocked by revelations of privacy scandals and other questionable moves in the past several weeks. Since February, its valuation has dropped by roughly $100 billion, down to $456 billion today. It’ll be interesting to see if it can recover from this, and what its users will demand in return for their trust in the company over the next several months.
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