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MOSCOW, May 15 (Itar-Tass) – RIA Novosti. Personal data about three million Facebook users who used the application with psychological tests, were freely available for four years, according to the publication New Scientist referring to his own investigation.
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The myPersonality application is a project of the University of Cambridge, which was created in 2007, according to the University website. In it, users could undergo psychological tests and quickly get results. Some users have agreed to share their personal data from profiles on Facebook, so it was created "one of the largest databases of research in the field of social sciences".
According to the publication, more than 6 million people passed the tests in the application and about half of them agreed to share with the project data from their Facebook accounts. The creators of the application subsequently collected the data, made them anonymous and placed on the website so that other researchers could use them.
However, as the newspaper notes, Cambridge University employees posted data on the site without appropriate security measures. Thus, within four years, the password for accessing the data was available online. "Anyone who wanted to access the data could find the key for downloading them in less than a minute", – the edition writes.
The publication notes that the user data was "very important" and should be stored and distributed anonymously. The data included age, gender, location, test results and other details. Weak security measures could allow attackers to use the data for other purposes, the publication notes.
According to the publication, Facebook previously began to investigate the work of the application as part of the investigation of Cambridge Analytica. April 7, Facebook suspended the activities of myPersonality, saying that the application could violate the company’s internal rules.
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The scandal around Facebook broke out in March this year. Then the newspaper New York Times reported that collaborating with Donald Trump during his election campaign, Cambridge Analytica illegally received data from 50 million social network users. Teacher at Cambridge University, Alexander Kogan, said that through his application on the social network platform This is your digital life has transferred data about Facebook users to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica. In April, Facebook reported that Cambridge Analytica mistakenly transferred data to 87 million of its users, mostly from the US.
After the scandal Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the company will examine all applications that have access to large amounts of user information before in 2014 the company significantly reduced access to its data. In addition, it was intended to conduct a comprehensive audit of applications, which are noticed "suspicious activity", and "to remove developers who will refuse a thorough audit".