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Facebook says user data of 87 million was shared with Cambridge Analytica

The Facebook app icon and logo. (Dreamstime/TNS)
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Up to 87 million Facebook users had personal information improperly shared with political consulting company Cambridge Analytica, a significant jump from what had previously been reported, the company said Wednesday.

The affected accounts were mostly in the U.S., Facebook said in a blog post, which also outlined new restrictions on access to user data.

Previously, it had been thought that 50 million users were ensnared in the data misappropriation scandal, which has presented Facebook with its biggest crisis in its 14-year history.

The data were improperly passed to Cambridge Analytica through a psychology professor who developed a quiz app for Facebook. The professor was able to collect data from the nearly 300,000 people who downloaded his app, as well as their friends. He then broke Facebook rules by sharing that information with Cambridge Analytica, which worked on the Donald Trump presidential campaign and reportedly used the data to identify swing voters.

Facebook was lambasted for not doing more to prevent the data leak or alerting the affected users immediately after it was discovered. But reports in The New York Times and the British newspaper the Observer last month raised pressure on Facebook to apologize and re-evaluate its data sharing and collection practices.

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On Wednesday, the company said it was taking a number of steps that could change the way outside companies can leverage data from Facebook’s 2 billion users, including restricting information about users’ religious or political views.

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© 2018 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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