RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – On Wednesday, Attorney General Mark Herring revealed that up to 1.7 million Virginians might have had their personal information exposed in the recent Facebook data scandal.
“A lot of people care deeply about this,” said Herring.
In March, Facebook admitted as many as 87 million of its users potentially had their data inappropriately turned over to Cambridge Analytica either by downloading a third-party app themselves or by being Facebook friends with someone who downloaded the app in question.
Herring wanted to know more about how the breach impacted the Commonwealth. He teamed up with 36 other state attorneys general and wrote to the social media company requesting additional information.
According to Facebook:
- 7,103 Virginia users installed the application
- 1,702,732 friends of those users had their information potentially exposed
- 1,709,835 total Virginians may have had their information potentially exposed
“The fact that one in five Virginians may have had their personal information shared without permission is extremely troubling,” said Herring. “I’d encourage all Virginians to take this opportunity to review their privacy settings and make sure they understand just what they may be sharing with Facebook and other social media platforms.”
Courtney and Skylar Thornton both have Facebook accounts.
“We’ve always been taught to watch what you put on social media,” said Courtney.
But now that it’s clear what what her friends do on their accounts could still get her information compromised, she’d consider ditching the platform all together.
“That’s a little more scary,” she said.
While Facebook has yet to answer several of Herring’s questions, he said knowing the total number of Virginians potentially impacted is a first step in understanding the scale of the problem.
“They have assured us they will continue to provide more information about the safeguards that were in place, what they were doing to audit or monitor third-party developers and what rules and other precautions need to be put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen,” said Herring. “As attorney general, I’m going to hold their feet to the fire on those commitments.”