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The word Cambridge now reminds most of us about Cambridge Analytica and Alexandr Kogan. A report from New Scientist reveals that there was another data collection project, conducted by University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre, to conduct personality tests and source the data of Facebook users through the app called myPersonality.
The project doesn’t have any links to the Cambridge Analytica scandal apart from the fact that Alexandr Kogan worked on it in the past. The data and responses of over 3 million Facebook users were collected after permission and shared with hundreds of researchers via a website.
For taking the data, the researchers had to register as project collaborators. What sparks concerns is that the website had poor security and the data which was meant to be kept private remained exposed for four years; anyone could download it using a working username and password which could be easily obtained by making a web search.
The app was used by 6 million people, but only half of them gave access to their Facebook profiles. The data collected by the myPersonality app included information like age, gender, status updates, as well as, intimate responses to questions.
Before uploading, the names of people were removed an individual data set was tied to a unique ID to make it anonymous. Still, it was hard to de-anonymize the data.
According to the report, the myPersonality app team was contacted by Cambridge Analytica in 2013 but was turned down due to its political ambitions.
As a part of their recent cleanup of over 200 apps, Facebook kicked out the myPersonality app from their platform saying that its language used to describe how data is shared violated Facebook’s policies.