PS Picks: The Reporting on Cambridge Analytica and How Facebook Doesn't Protect Your Privacy

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
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The building that houses the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London.

The building that houses the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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Which ex-Trump administration official are you? What type of shopper are you based on your impulse Target purchases? Truthfully, I don't care, and I'm pretty sure you don't really either. But if you're like me—and, at risk of projecting, like everyone else—your rapturous vanity compels you to take a personality quiz every so often. And while I'm not particularly partial to BuzzFeed, it is important that you take your quizzes on a site you are not logged into. And, in particular, it's important you take quizzes not on Facebook.

Last weekend, news broke from sister publications the Guardian and the Observer of the social media company's "data breach"—that which allowed Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that worked with the Trump campaign, to come into possession of 50 million users' personal info. The news is especially concerning precisely because it wasn't a breach in the conventional sense: there were no hackers. Rather, users who opened a third-party app to take a personality quiz were forking over their own personal info, and, unwittingly, also that of their entire friend network, to the app—and, by extension, to Cambridge Analytica.

This is yet another helpful reminder that Facebook doesn't protect your privacy, even when its rules dictating how apps use your data are supposed to protect it. The best course of action is, whenever possible, to not give the company info about yourself. A suggestion for starting on BuzzFeed: Which pizza topping are you? What is your inner potato? This is the info about you that should be shared with the world, not your age, what groups you belong to, and where you're located.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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