Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Facebook is closing the book on an era by indicating it would ban the use of most personality quiz apps hosted on its platform. Personality quizzes were a defining element of Facebook, with millions of users entering personal information in exchange for finding out which Disney villain was their alter ego or which Starbucks drink was a match made in java heaven, among others.
According to a recent Facebook announcement, “apps with minimal utility, such as personality quizzes” may be banned from the platform as early as April 30, 2019. It also announced the removal of a number of APIs that many of these apps may rely on, while also noting that access to user data will be revoked after 90 days of inactivity. The announcement also noted more significant changes for third-party developers were on the horizon.
The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal
The Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as subsequent data privacy shortcomings around Facebook, has revealed over the past year the dark side of such innocent fun, such as personality quizzes. It turns out these types of interactive games were extremely valuable to a host of advertisers, political operatives and unsavory actors who mined the data of respondents and those in their networks.
A series of investigative articles launched by the New York Times suggested that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm specializing in providing political intelligence on potential voters, may have improperly obtained the use of millions of private Facebook profiles and their associated data and used this data to build voter profiles, which may then have been utilized in aid of political campaigns.
At the core of the scandal was a personality quiz app, developed specifically for Cambridge Analytica called “This is Your Digital Life.” It has been estimated that as many as 87 million Facebook users may have provided data to the quiz app, which could have been “harvested” by Cambridge Analytica for use on high profile political campaigns.
What does this mean for Facebook users?
While Facebook had faced occasional scrutiny on user privacy issues before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, the extent of the prospect of unauthorized data harvesting millions of unsuspecting users became a high-profile point of concern among lawmakers, the media and many users of the service.
If you have a Facebook account or use other social media platforms, keeping up with the state of any social media account is an important part of a regular digital self-checkup routine. While some users have quit Facebook in one form or another in protest of the social media giant’s policies, profiles often lay dormant or are deactivated, which doesn’t actually delete the personal data associated with your account.
To potentially uncover all of these “forgotten” social accounts, you can search your name on PeopleLooker.com. The search is designed to show a full list of social media accounts associated with your identity so that you may check the status of these accounts and ideally update or delete them to protect yourself and your data.