Facebook launched a tool yesterday that you can use to find out whether you or your friends shared information with Cambridge Analytica, the Trump-affiliated company that harvested data from a Facebook app to support the then-candidate’s efforts in the 2016 presidential election.
If you were affected directly—and you have plenty of company, if so—you should have already received a little notification from Facebook. If you missed that in your News Feed (or you’ve already sworn off Facebook, but want to check and see if your information was compromised), Facebook also has a handy little Cambridge Analytica tool you can use.
The problem? While the tool can tell you if you or your friends shared your information via the spammy “This is Your Digital Life” app, it won’t tell you who among your friends was foolish enough to give up your information to a third party. You have lost your ability to publicly shame them, yell at them, or go over to where they live (or fire up a remote desktop session) to teach them how to … not do that ever again.
So, what can you do now?
Even though your past Facebook data might already be out there in the digital ether somewhere, you can now start locking down your information a bit more. Once you’re done checking the Cambridge Analytica tool, go here (Facebook’s Settings page). Click on Apps and Websites. Up until recently, Facebook had a setting (under “Apps Others Use”) that you could use to restrict the information that your friends could share about you to apps they were using. Now, you’ll see this message instead:
“These outdated settings have been removed because they applied to an older version of our platform that no longer exists.
To see or change the info you currently share with apps and websites, review the ones listed above, under ‘Logged in with Facebook.’”
Sounds ominous, right? Well, according to Facebook, these settings haven’t really done much of anything for years, anyway. As a Facebook spokesperson recently told Wired:
“These controls were built before we made significant changes to how developers build apps on Facebook. At the time, the Apps Others Use functionality allowed people to control what information could be shared to developers. We changed our systems years ago so that people could not share friends’ information with developers unless each friend also had explicitly granted permission to the developer.”
Instead, take a little time to review (again) the apps you’ve allowed to access your Facebook information. If you’re not using the app anymore, or if it sounds a little fishy, remove it—heck, remove as many apps as you can in one go.