Tech

Over 550,000 Indians Affected by Cambridge Analytica Data Controversy, Says Facebook

While only 335 people installed the 'thisisyourdigitallife' application in India, over half a million people were affected as a result.

New Delhi: Social networking giant Facebook on Thursday stated that over 550,000 Indians could have been potentially affected by the Cambridge Analytica data controversy in which personal information was harvested in an effort to target voters who might plump for Trump in the US presidential election of 2016.

Last month, media exposés pointed out how the controversial data analytics firm had unauthorisedly accessed the data of over 80 million Facebook users through a mobile application developed by a UK-based firm called Global Science Research Ltd.

This app, called ‘thisisyourdigitallife’, collected the data of not only the people who installed and used it but also their friends.

“We are investigating the specific number of people whose information was accessed by the app, including those in India. The numbers that we have now are that only 335 people in India installed the App, which is 0.1% of the App’s total worldwide installs,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Wire.

However, with just 335 people installing the application, this resulted in 562,120 additional people also being affected.

“We further understand that 562,120 additional people in India were potentially affected, as friends of people who installed the App. This yields a total of 562,455 potentially affected people in India, which is 0.6% of the global number of potentially affected people,” the spokesperson added.

India was the seventh most affected country by the data leak. Credit: Facebook

India was the seventh most affected country by the data leak. Credit: Facebook

Election data?

The Wire has also learned that there are important caveats to these numbers. Firstly, the over half a million figure does not include people who may have installed the application or may have been friends with people who installed the application and then subsequently deleted their Facebook accounts. The 562,455 statistic, therefore, could be higher.

It’s also unclear at the moment how many registered voters existed among the half a million Indian users who have been affected.