Newfoundland and Labrador folk singer Con O’Brien logged onto Facebook Tuesday, and he saw a rather lengthy notification at the top of his newsfeed: he was one of the 87 million people swept up in the Cambridge Analytica data breach.
Now, O’Brien is wondering about the trip he’s got planned.
“I’m crossing the border next week, going to Florida. And I’m wondering: should I take my phone?” he said. “I think I’ll just tweet nice things about Trump for a few days before I go.”
O’Brien said he wasn’t surprised that his information was part of the Cambridge Analytica database: As the lead singer of the Irish Descendants, he has thousands of fans on Facebook as friends and any one of them could have taken the “This Is Your Digital Life” quiz, and that would have harvested his Facebook data.
All the same, he said it’s concerning.
“It’s eerily kinda hitting me what it means,” he said. “If I ever run for politics sometime, somebody’s going to have a list of my computer world, for a while, to go back and check on my personal life.”
Facebook initially said that it would start notifying users if their data was affected by the privacy breach on Monday, but the notifications did not start appearing at the tops of many people’s newsfeeds until Tuesday morning.
The social media company has created a tool which allows people to check, if they miss the newsfeed notification.
Facebook says 622,121 Canadians were part of the 87 million people swept up in the Cambridge Analytica database.
The notifications are part of a crisis PR effort on the part of Facebook ahead of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the U.S. Congress Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ryan LaFountain, a credit union manager in Roanoke, Virginia, also received the notification Tuesday that he was part of the Cambridge Analytica breach.
LaFountain said he’s been following the story for the past few weeks, and he is not too impressed with Zuckerberg’s apologies.
“It seems as though they’re eager to blame the user,” LaFountain said, adding that he’s heard lots of language about how users didn’t understand the tools and policies in place at Facebook.
LaFountain said he’s also been feeling some low-key paranoia about life on the Internet recently; he said last week he was texting with co-workers and used an off-colour phrase in one of his messages. A couple days later, the same phrase showed up in an ad.
“It was an ad for a coffee mug with this sort of phrase on it,” he said.
“I didn’t use it on Facebook, we didn’t have it in a Facebook chat or anything like that.”