Cambridge Analytica Improperly Harvested Data of Up to 87 Million Facebook Users

Social networking giant divulged that its privacy breach was much larger than first reported.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images )

Facebook announced Wednesday that the data of up to 87 million of its users may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm connected to President Trump during lead up to the 2016 election. This is much higher than the original estimate of 50 million that had been widely cited since the leak was reported last month. Facebook has been reluctant to disclose how many accounts were harvested by Cambridge Analytica and was also slow to disclose how the data was used by Russian-based actors to influence the 2016 presidential campaign. During the same announcement on Wednesday, Facebook also made another startling admission: due to a vulnerability in its search and account recovery functions, the company “could have exposed ‘most’ of its 2 billion users to having their public profile information harvested,” reports the New York Times. 

Facebook has recently tried to appear more transparent about its data leaks and privacy limits. After a initial delay in addressing public outcry, Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, finally held a question and answer session with reporters, and next week he is expected to testify on Capitol Hill. Sheryl Sandberg, Zuckerberg’s top deputy, is set to appear in several national television interviews later this week. On Monday, the company said it would start telling users whether their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

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