While promising to enact stricter policies on data, Facebook revealed that the number of users whose information was sent to Cambridge Analytica without prior consent is 87 million - far surpassing the previously reported figure of 50 million accounts.
Furthermore, the social network says most accounts on the platform may have had their public profile "scraped."
87 Million Facebook Accounts Breached
Facebook revealed the number unceremoniously amid a slew of forthcoming changes to how its relationship with third-party services will work moving forward. These include limiting access to information by virtue of limiting APIs in Events, Groups, Pages, and others
"In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people - mostly in the US - may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica."
The company is also introducing changes to apps that require access to information such as posts, events, groups, and more.
"[W]e're tightening our review process - requiring these apps to agree to strict requirements before they can access this data."
Facebook will also no longer enable apps to pull data involving users' political beliefs, religion, friends list, education and work history, reading habits, listening habits, video-watching habits, and a number of others.
Facebook Cambridge Analytica Scandal
The changes come at the heels of Facebook's storied past couple of weeks, putting it squarely at the hot seat of intense scrutiny and criticism. In March several publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Observer, reported that Cambridge Analytica had acquired data from over 50 million Facebook accounts. Public outrage was swift, promptly leading to #DeleteFacebook movements, in which people advocate to get off the social network entirely lest they risk their personal information being compromised again without their knowledge or permission. Until now the company had never confirmed the 50 million figure.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before the U.S. Congress next week to address issues surrounding data privacy. In a call with reporters on April 4, Zuckerberg explained that he's confident the number of affected accounts isn't more than 87 million.
For Facebook, this isn't the first instance of public outcry involving data privacy concerns. Just recently, it published a blog post confirming it had discovered and deleted 300 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to Internet Research Agency, a Russian propaganda organization.
While the CEO takes responsibility for Facebook's data privacy fiasco, he also sometimes says that users should know better than to share certain kinds of information publicly. For instance, he said that the only information that can be acquired from scraping via an account's phone number was the ones that have been made public on profiles.
"Yes, he broke the policy, he broke people's expectations, but also, people chose to share that data with him," Zuckerberg said in reference to the person who built the data-scraping app for Cambridge Analytica.