The Facebook data privacy dilemma doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, as fresh information keeps emerging every day. According to recent allegations, Facebook whistleblower Christopher Wylie may have used the Cambridge Analytica data to offer microtargeting solutions for Trump’s campaign. The data of more than 400 million Facebook profiles is now shown to be accessible through a website named Profile Engine, according to publications concerning it.
Advanced Facebook profile search is available using the very inexpensive search engine Profile Engine. The website, which was established in 2007 and is partially owned by Auckland University of Technology, enables anyone to locate anyone on social media with the help of some basic information about them.
A report from Quartz Media claims that Profile Engine purchased the permission to crawl through Facebook’s back-end in 2008. By using these rights up until 2010, the website was able to compile information on more than 400 million profiles, 15 billion friendship connections, and 3 billion likes. Facebook supposedly stopped allowing access to its backend in October 2010, although the website still has the information that was gathered at that period.
The website asserts:
The majority of the data on Profile Engine was collected between 2007 and 2010 Images were updated when possible until around the end of 2011. You should therefore not assume that information on Profile Engine is up to date, current or correct.
Even though the data may not be current, it’s important to note that the website still has a legal right to the information, which contravenes the application of the European right to be forgotten.
The website argues that Facebook is contractually required to keep the information current, but Facebook has refused to do so. Additionally, Facebook has refused to let us know when information is deleted from or made private on Facebook, so we are unable to automatically delete data from Profile Engine when it is deleted on Facebook.
According to the privacy commissioner for New Zealand, Profile Engine obtained and currently holds the user data of about 450 million people lawfully, and its methods of data acquisition do not violate personal privacy. This indicates that the fight over who owns personal data will likely continue for some time to come.