If you've been worried about your data and whether it was involved in the Cambridge Analytica situation, Monday is the day that you will finally find out for sure. Facebook will notify users whose data Cambridge Analytica used in a message on their newsfeed. Some 87 million Facebook users were affected, most of them in the United States. If that's you, there are some steps you might want to take.
The newsfeed message will explain exactly what this all means. Even if you're not affected, there will be a notice that will show up in your newsfeed entitled, "Protecting Your Information." This does not mean that your data was used by Cambridge Analytica, but it does show how you can take steps to protect yourself from here on out.
What you'll want to check is the language of the notification to see whether or not you're one of the 87 million, of whom 70 million are based in the United States. If your data was affected, there will be a paragraph that reads:
We have banned the website ‘This Is Your Digital Life,’ which one of your friends used Facebook to log into. We did this because the website may have misused some of your Facebook information by sharing it with a company called Cambridge Analytica.
But regardless of whether or not you were affected, the warning will include a paragraph that tells you that you can "remove other apps and websites anytime if you no longer want them to have access to your Facebook information." This is the key thing to know and pay attention to.
Third-party apps and websites that have access to your Facebook account and information are potential weak spots Facebook's data privacy. This is how Cambridge Analytica gained access, even though it was technically against Facebook's rules.
In the notice sent out Monday, there will be a link that will show which apps have access to your information and give you the option to restrict that access. You can turn them off individually or turn off all third-party access.
If you'd rather not wait to receive the message from Facebook, there is a way to go into your own settings and find that information now. Go into your settings by clicking on the down-facing arrow in the upper right side of the Facebook website. Then on the lefthand menu, click on "apps and websites." Here you can see the apps and websites you're using. You can remove their access by selecting them and clicking "remove."
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, has admitted that the data breach was a "huge mistake," but he plans to stay at the company. “I think life is about learning from the mistakes and figuring out what you need to do to move forward,” Zuckerberg said last week during a press briefing. “The reality of a lot of this is, when you’re building something like Facebook that is unprecedented in the world, there are going to be things that you mess up.”
Zuckerberg may share more of his thoughts on the data breach Monday. He is scheduled to meet with some lawmakers Monday in advance of his testimony on Capitol Hill. He'll speak in front of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on Tuesday and the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
"There is more work to do, but we are committed to confronting abuse and to putting you in control of your privacy," Facebook's message to affected users ends.