The Loudest Scandal of Facebook 2018: Cause & Effect
One of the world’s most popular social media has suffered the loudest scandal in its history. The data of 50 000 000 users were given to the Cambridge Analytica company founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer. This post will analyze the cause of the scandal and its possible effect on the social media as a whole.
In 2015, the professor of Cambridge University with Russian roots Aleksandr Kogan created an app “This Is Your Digital Life.” Through Facebook API, the app was collecting the data of people who were using it, as well as the data of users’ friends. As a result, this app was downloaded by 270 000 people. The app got the personal information of almost 50 million users.
With Facebook rules violations, this data was passed over to the Cambridge Analytica company owned by the billionaire Robert Mercer. The founder of social media was caused for questioning by European Parliament, due to the investigations that The Washington Post and Guardian carried out.
What is Cambridge Analytica?
Cambridge Analytica is a private consulting firm that was established in 2013. It collects data about Internet users, builds their psycho-portraits and creates the personalized advertisements. The algorithm the company follows was developed by scientist and psychologist from Cambridge – Michael Kosynskii. His model helped to get to know the personality of a human with the analysis of 10 likes. This lead to the creation of psycho-portrait that could tell about one’s features of character.
A Secret Source
The Cambridge Analytica, with its founders Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, invested a great amount of money into the creation of manipulation tools to affect peoples’ behavior. Alexander Nix, the chief executive of the Cambridge Analytica, once called this project “our secret sauce”.
The procedure of the machination was impressive. The massive amount of personal data was used to create individual psychological profiles, which were sending narrow-targeted messages. These messages were aimed at persuading people to vote for the proper candidate.
In regard to the scandal, this year on 25th of March, Mark Zuckerberg made a public apology. It turned out that the chiefs of the company were warned of the possible information leak 7 years ago.
“This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time,”
Zuckerberg said, reiterating an apology first made in U.S. television interviews.
After the scandal, Facebook sent letters to the Cambridge Analytica with demands to delete users’ data. Although, the former did not check if the latter followed the demands. This year in March Facebook published the information that said, that the Cambridge Analytica did not delete all the data. This points to the possible use of this information in the presidential campaign in the USA.
The person who contributed to the leak of information from Cambridge Analityca revealed a lot of details concerning Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Accordingly to Christopher Weil, the main executive of the outfit Aleksandr Nix established a fake office in Cambridge to help Steve Bannon. This man is widely known as a former main strategy builder of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. By setting an office, the company itself became more seriously looking.
As it was stated by The New York Times, political committee John Bolton Super PAC paid Cambridge Analityca $1.2 million for the data collected by sociological polls. The workers of Cambridge Analityca told the journalists that the services of the company were used by John Robert Bolton – new Trump’s National Security advisor.
The former worker of Cambridge Analityca also explained that the data were used not only in Trump’s presidential campaign. Thomas Roland, the Republican senator, who ran from the state of North Carolina in 2014, used Cambridge Analityca service as well.
Attorney general of Massachusetts Mara Helay launched an investigation on Facebook and Cambridge Analityca cases. The work of social media will be checked in Israel, Canada, and the UK. India turned to be an active player in regard to this situation too. Indian government wants to know if there are some companies, which used the service of Cambridge Analityca. The European Union promised to investigate the case about illegal use of Facebook users’ data as well.
People started deleting their Facebook accounts as soon as the case became highly discussed by the press. A lot of influential public figures followed an example of regular users. The founder of WhatsApp Brian Acton was among them. In his Twitter, Acton started engaging people to delete their Facebook accounts. Thus, the company under “#DeleteFacebook” hashtag was launched.
Soon, the tweet was noticed by Elon Musk, who later on deleted Tesla and SpaceX pages from Facebook as well. The next was Playboy. This company deleted its page and emphasized, that 25 out of 50 million people, whose data were stolen, were subscribed to Playboy page.
These days, the firm is suffering from the enormous number of accusations voiced by lawmakers from the United Kingdom and the United States. The claims tell that Cambridge Analitycastill possesses the massive amount of personal data, that was illegally collected years ago.
Security Measures for the Future
Although the scandal literally took place 3 years ago, all the effects are visible nowadays. Zuckerberg has lost 6.06 billion dollars, as Facebook shares fell in price. He confessed that the social media made mistakes in the process of cooperation with Cambridge Analytica.
He pledged to impose measures, which will not allow other companies to steal Facebook users’ data. Social media workers also promised to create the audit of any app with suspicious activity. If it turns out that the app is stealing users’ data, people will be informed about it.
The representatives also emphasized that they were planning to show the information gathered by different apps. Facebook users will be able to see these data on a centralized page. Everyone will have an opportunity to know what kind of information was gathered by each app. In addition, the new system will allow users to change their privacy settings quicker and easier.
Necole Hardison, writer and editor Thewritemyessay.com
Necole graduated Harvard Business School and studied many executive education programs. She is a business strategic expert by day and essay writing fanatic by night, writing all sorts of great content. Necole already helped a lot of people with an essay writing and does not plan to dwell on it.