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Facebook leak: Details of over 5.6 lakh Indian users may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica

The social media giant has been issued a notice by the government of India to provide information by April 7 about possible breach of data about its Indian subscribers

world Updated: Apr 05, 2018 10:24 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Facebook,Cambridge Analytica,Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook on Wednesday admitted that it may have inappropriately shared information about Indian subscribers with data firm Cambridge Analytica(AP Photo )

Social media giant Facebook on Wednesday admitted for the first time that it may have inappropriately shared information about Indian subscribers with data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook said in a blog that information about 562,455 subscribers in India — 0.6% of the complete count — may have been shared with the data firm that has worked with Indian political parties for a long time, but has not specified whether it used that information for its clients.

Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer also said in that blog, that ran under his byline on the company’s website, that the number of subscribes whose data was shared with the controversial political consultancy was much higher at 87 million than the 50 million it had conceded earlier.

These new revelations came ahead of a conference call with reporters in which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he had made a “huge mistake” personally by not focusing on data privacy.

Zuckerberg also faced questions for the first time about his suitability to run the company he founded after he dropped out of Harvard. He answered in the affirmative, but questions are beginning to be raised.

Zuckerberg, who is expected to appear before a US congressional committee on April 11, has not directly and adequately addressed questions raised about compromising data about its Indian subscribers, who are second in size worldwide only to those in the United States.

Facebook has been issued a notice by the government of India to provide information by April 7 about possible breach of data about its Indian subscribers and whether that information was used to manipulate the outcome of an election.

The notice to Facebook asked the company if it had directly or through “related or downstream agencies utilizing Facebook’s data have previously been engaged by any entities to manipulate the Indian electoral process”.

It added: “If any such downstream entity misused data from Facebook, what is the protection available to the data subject?”

READ: Quitting Facebook for a week may reduce stress though you may not realise it

In a statement on Facebook new revelations, Cambridge Analytica said that it had “licensed data for no more than 30 million people … We did not receive more data than this”.

Dealing with its worst crisis yet, existential according to critics, the social media giant is striving to be seen as a trustworthy custodian of its 2 billion subscriber’s information, some of which is very intimate.

It announced new measures Wednesday, continuing from its previous announcement, with the promise of more.

First Published: Apr 05, 2018 09:50 IST