Everybody uses Facebook, whether for personal use or social media marketing. Facebook has over 2.13 billion (yes, billion with a B) monthly active users, most of who believe their information is secure on the social platform. A handful of us at Konnect Agency have been fascinated by the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal and invested a lot of time recently trying to understand it. Listed below is everything you need to know about the scandal, and what’s next for the social media platform.
- On March 18, The New York Times, alongside The Guardian and The Observer, reported that Cambridge Analytica gathered the data of 50 million Facebook users and secretly kept it
- Cambridge Analytica is a data analysis firm that worked on President Trump’s 2016 campaign
- The researcher in question is Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian American who worked at the University of Cambridge
- Kogan built a quiz app on Facebook that exposed a loophole in Facebook’s API, allowing the quiz to collect data from the Facebook friends of the quiz takers, without their knowledge
- Facebook allowed a third-party developer to engineer an application for the sole purpose of gathering data
- The information was improperly used to influence the presidential election
- Facebook said they knew about the breach, but received legally binding guarantees the data was deleted
- Facebook knew about the breach for two years before acknowledging they made a mistake.
- On March 21, Mark Zuckerberg finally responded in a lengthy post on his personal Facebook page, apologizing for his company’s failure to protect its users’ data.
What happens next?
- The whole situation is more of a scandal for Facebook than it is for Cambridge Analytica because users are already wary of how much informational data Facebook has
- Facebook announced changes to their platform to protect user’s data. They also plan to audit all apps that are able to access large amounts of information and will ban apps that do not agree to an audit.
- On March 26, the Federal Trade Commission confirmed that they are investigating Facebook’s privacy practices
- The investigation seeks to find whether Facebook violated a consent decree – which requires the social network to obtain explicit permission from users to share their data with third parties
- On March 27, Mark Zuckerberg agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee
So, what does this mean for my privacy?
This breach highlights a larger debate over how much users can trust Facebook with their personal information, but there are ways to protect your data. Make sure you are checking your privacy settings regularly, and actively thinking about the data you are putting on the internet. No matter what you do, there will always be personal data out there, but you can control how much you are sharing. I’m interested to see how the social media platform will change over the next few weeks/months during the investigation.