Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook App Collected Users’ Direct Messages

The already-infamous Facebook app This Is Your Digital Life — which has created a firestorm for the social network — collected even more private data than initially believed before its removal from the site.

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Facebook admitted that Cambridge Analytica may have taken some direct messages through the app, and The Guardian has confirmed this.

Cambridge Analytica contractor Aleksandr Kogan collected direct messages from users who installed the app. Kogan told The Guardian that “private messages were only ever used for university work within his lab, for which Cambridge University ethics approval had been obtained.”

This particular aspect of the controversial data harvesting only affected those Facebook users who actually installed the This Is Your Digital Life app. Those users would have been notified that they were granting mailbox access, so their “entire mailbox history” may have been uploaded.

Much of the outrage stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal has come from the revelation that private information was shared from friends of those who installed the app — even if you didn’t install the app yourself, you may have seen your data harvested through the Facebook activity of your friends. That’s not the case with these private messages, but this aspect of the breach constitutes a clear and serious invasion of privacy. (To find out if your data was shared with Cambridge Analytica — and what data may have been shared — check this Facebook help page.)

The other main source of outrage in the scandal, obviously, stems from why this data was taken and how it was used — Cambridge Analytica worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

We’ve Only Just Begun

Cambridge Analytica was only the beginning of this recent stretch for Facebook, as the social network is currently dealing with a number of other issues related to private data. Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress last week to address how the company handles user data.

Phil Dzikiy

Phil Dzikiy

Phil Dzikiy is the former editor in chief of Security Baron. Before, he has worked as a freelance writer and editor at websites like and along with publications like the Lockport Union Sun & Journal and the Greater Niagara Newspapers. With digital and print experience under his belt, Phil has a passion for all things technology including home security, cyber security, and the smart home. His bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland College Park initially landed Phil his first job at the Beaver County Times, which has lead to over 15 years of experience as a journalist.

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