Dubai: Some data of US citizens in the Middle East could be impacted by the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica issue, a cybersecurity expert told Gulf News.

“Once you hit 50 million users across the world, definitely some of them could be located here,” said Nicolai Solling, Chief Technology Officer at Help AG.

He said that it is not a data breach in a pure technical form. The issue happened in 2014 by abusing features that Facebook has since disallowed for app developers. What seems to be a general consensus is that people installed an app, which in turn connected to the user’s social media profile containing friends’ list, posts, likes and other elements of the profile.

“On surface this may be harmless data, but when data science is applied it may paint a profile of the individual behind the profile such as political standpoint, general opinions and behaviour both now and in the future,” he said.

What Cambridge Analytica is accused of is buying the harvested data and then using it to profile individuals and direct political campaigns and biased content to users, trying to influence their political opinion. Cambridge Analytica has said the data was never utilised in any profiling and was deleted, he said.

“If all of this is true or not is very difficult to say. However, [it’s] very scary to think about with the amount of data social media have about you. Everyone should always remember: If you are not paying for it, you are the product. With social media this is as true to the word,” he said.