Beshear: Facebook Responds to Initial Questions; Privacy Review ‘Ongoing’

Andy Beshear

Agreeing that there is a need to protect user privacy, Facebook sent a 13-page letter with exhibits to state attorneys general answering a series of initial questions and concerns regarding recently revealed data-mining by a third party application on the social media network, Attorney General Andy Beshear said today.

The May 7 letter by a Facebook vice president is a response to Beshear and a bipartisan group of AGs who sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg March 26 asking for more information, including the number of users impacted by the breach.

According to the information provided to Beshear by Facebook earlier this month, the approximate number of Kentuckians affected by this breach is 1,310,682. The social media’s May 7 letter said it believed, based on its best estimate, that approximately 70 million or 81 percent of potentially impacted users were located in the United States. The estimate worldwide is 87 million users, according to the letter.

The issue surrounding Facebook is related “to the misuse of Facebook user data obtained by Dr. Aleksandr Kogan and his company, Global Science Research, through the ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ application” and “the events associated with Dr. Kogan, his app, and his improper transfer of information obtained through use of the platform to SCL Elections/Cambridge Analytica,” according to the letter.

Beshear said his office will further seek information from Facebook as part of his mission to ensure the social media platform is fully committed to addressing his data privacy concerns.

“We will continue to gather information from Facebook and take appropriate action to protect Kentucky families,” Beshear said. “We do appreciate Facebook’s cooperation in providing answers not just about this incident but steps they are taking to better protect the privacy of Kentuckians who use the social media platform.”

According to the May 7 letter, Facebook is investigating apps on its platform prior to its April 2014 privacy restrictions that had access to large amounts of data, and will conduct an audit of any suspicious activity.

Additionally, Facebook said it is informing people who have been affected by apps that have collected and misused their data. In a series of safeguard measures, Facebook said it is turning off apps that users have not used within “the last three months;” changing its Login to reduce the data an app can request with app review; encouraging users to manage the apps they use and making the app settings easier to find and manage, according to the letter.

Additionally, Facebook is “rewarding” people who report if they find misuses of data by app developers. Kentuckians may find further details on these changes athttp://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/03/privacy-shortcuts/.

Beshear said Kentuckians can visit his website to review consumer protection tips including what to do if their personal information has been compromised.

Beshear said he will continue to update the public on his ongoing conversations with Facebook.

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