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Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Facebook Says 335 Indian Users Agreed to Share Data on App

Several Indian states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are scheduled to go for polls this year and the general elections are due in a little over a year from now.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:April 5, 2018, 1:40 PM IST
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Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Facebook Says 335 Indian Users Agreed to Share Data on App
Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)
New Delhi: Facebook on Thursday informed the central government that 335 of its users in India agreed to share their data on an app, which further led to the app accessing data of lakhs of other people.

Starting April 9, the social media giant will also start telling people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

The total number of people affected by the data breach is close to 5,62,000, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry was told.

The app that 335 users in India installed was ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ which was pushed on Facebook by Aleksandr Kogan. Facebook suspended the app in December 2015. A psychology professor at University of Cambridge, Kogan, was given access to user data on Facebook via this app. The was further used by psychologists for predicting one's personality.

The social media giant had earlier in the day issued a statement that said data of over 3 million of its users in Asia could have been used by Cambridge Analytica, the British firm in the middle of a data breach controversy. The highest number of users hit by the breach were in the United States of America, the social media giant said in a statement. In Asia, around 3.7 million users were hit.

After the US, it was Philippines as the second most affected country in the world, thus making it the largest country in Asia to have been hit. Over 1.75 million users in Philippines have had their information improperly shared with CA.
Indonesia was third-most affected with about 1.1 million people. The total number of users affected in India stood at around 5,62,000 followed by Vietnam at 4,27,000.

Interestingly, since Facebook released the figures, CA said that it had in fact licensed data for 30 million individuals and not the 87 million as reported by Facebook. The controversial firm took to Twitter to make the statement.

Terming 2018 a "big year" for elections, Zuckerberg said Facebook was enhancing its security features to prevent trolls from spreading information.

"In the US Senate Alabama special election last year, we successfully deployed some new artificial intelligence (AI) tools that removed Macedonian trolls who were trying to spread information during the election. We now have about 15,000 people working on security and content review and we'll have more than 20,000 by the end of this year," Zuckerberg told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday.

"This is going to be a big year for elections ahead with the US midterms and elections in India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Hungary and others. This is going to be a major focus for us," he said.

Several Indian states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are scheduled to go for polls this year and the general elections are due in a little over a year from now.

The CA scandal broke in the UK a few weeks ago and soon found its way to India. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has accused the Congress party of using the services of Cambridge Analytica(CA), a controversial offshoot of British company SCL Group that deals in data mining and analysis for electoral procedures. He had previously warned social media giant Facebook of "stringent" action for any attempt to influence polls through data theft and had even threatened to summon its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, if needed.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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