Facebook Suspends Quiz App Linked to Cambridge University

Facebook is scrutinizing another quiz app, myPersonality, created by University of Cambridge academics following the Cambridge Analytica debacle. According to New Scientist, the myPersonality app collected data from six million people, about 40 percent of whom agreed to share their Facebook information. The app creator countered that Facebook had known about myPersonality for years. But the app is also being investigated by Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office for whether the data was properly anonymized.

Business Insider reports that, according to New Scientist, Facebook “secured the information of about 3 million user profiles.” This app actually has a connection to Cambridge Analytica; Aleksandr Kogan, who harvested that data, was a myPersonality project collaborator until 2014.

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The University of Cambridge website says that the university’s Psychometrics Centre deputy director David Stillwell created myPersonality in 2007. It adds that Cambridge academics also shared the data “with registered academic collaborators around the world … resulting in over 45 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals.”

Facebook VP of product partnerships Ime Archibong said, “If myPersonality refuses to cooperate or fails our audit, we will ban it.” Facebook earlier suspended 200 apps “and investigated thousands of others in case they misused people’s data.”

In the U.K., the Information Commissioner’s Office is looking into a New Scientist claim that, “a username and password to access some of the data were shared by a lecturer on GitHub.” Stillwell created the app before he joined Cambridge, said a spokesperson who added that the app did not go through the university’s “ethical approval processes.”

The New York Times reports that, “the Justice Department and the FBI are investigating Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct political data firm, and have sought to question former employees and banks that handled its business.” But, it adds, “prosecutors provided few other details, and the inquiry appears to be in its early stages, with investigators seeking an overview of the company and its business practices.”

Justice Department assistant chief of its securities and financial fraud division Brian Kidd is one of the prosecutors on the case. Kidd, with another prosecutor and an FBI agent, interviewed former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie.