A report from CNN notes that a pair of Ukrainian hackers used seemingly unsuspicious online quizzes and surveys to gather private Facebook user data and to target users with “unauthorized” advertisements.
The alleged hackers used a Facebook feature to take control of users’ internet browsers and gave them access to private information about the users and their private friends’ lists. Facebook has already filed a lawsuit against the two Ukrainian nationals.
Working out of Kiev, Ukraine, the two men, Andrey Gorbachov, and Gleb Sluchevsky gathered information from various quiz questions ranging from pets to the royal family. The quizzes often featured such headlines like, “Do you have royal blood?, “What kind of dog are you according to your zodiac sign?” and “You are yin. Who is your yang?”
Once the users are connected to Facebook and other social media platforms, they were asked to install what Facebook termed as “malicious browser extensions” that allow the alleged hackers to pose as the affected users online.
The amount of data Facebook shares about their users with third-party apps like these has come under intense scrutiny by the authorities over the past 12 months.
Last March, it was discovered that a developer working on behalf of Cambridge Analytica came under fire for similar practices in 2018, when the company that went on to work for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, has access to data of tens of millions of Facebook users without their explicit knowledge. The developer had apparently used quizzes on unsuspecting users to gather the data.
How to protect your data on Facebook
- Visit the App setting page and uncheck any category that you don’t want an app to access such as bio, birthday, family, religious views.
- Under App setting, click the edit button under Apps, Websites and Plugins and disable the platform.
- Click on the edit button under “Apps others use” lower on the page and choose what information your friends can share on your behalf.
- If you’re given the opportunity to log into an app or play a game by logging in through Facebook, go through the original site instead.
- The best way to ensure that your data remains completely private is quit Facebook totally. To delete your information from the site, look at the help document with the title “how do I permanently delete my account?“