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The Cambridge Analytica Data Harvested People’s Private Facebook Messages

The data-harvesting app which gathered private information for Cambridge Analytica also collected users’ private messages, The Guardian reported on Friday.

This Is Your Digital Life, a quiz app developed by Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan, pulled in both incoming and outgoing messages from several thousand accounts of people who downloaded the app.

The number who had messages taken is a small proportion of the total 87 million people whose data was harvested in some fashion.

But it represents a much more intrusive collection than the page likes, birthdays, locations, and personality traits and so forth which were taken from other profiles.

Facebook warned users earlier this week that people who used Kogan’s app “may have” shared messages from users inboxes. He appeared to confirm this in an interview with the New York Times.

Kogan denied handing over the information to Cambridge Analytica for use on any of its campaigns.

However, the Guardian said that whistleblower Christopher Wylie had looked at some direct messages on Kogan’s database, and concluded it was “unclear” whether they had been using by Cambridge Analytica and its associates.

Facebook and Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office is still investigating the Cambridge Analytica brief. The fallout from the scandal also precipitated Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before the US Congress this week.