What’s Wrong With Facebook? Things You Actually Need To Know!
What turned out to be a billion-dollar idea a decade and a half back, has turned out to be a deadly proposition for the whole of humanity in 2018.
What turned out to be a billion-dollar idea a decade and a half back, has turned out to be a deadly proposition for the whole of humanity in 2018. Undoubtedly, Facebook remains one of the biggest technological revolutions in the history of the internet and social media, but things have changed lately.
Facebook has been slowly poisoning us. The recent Cambridge Analytica incident has a lot to say. The largest social media company in the world has quietly harvested personal data of more than 50 million users for illicit purposes.
After the Cambridge Analytica news broke, the Facebook stock plummeted and the company lost a mammoth $60 billion valuation in less than a week. Lately, the company has been in news for its content-moderation techniques and proliferation of fake news.
What Has Actually Happened?
Cambridge Analytica is a British data analytics firm which carries out analysis of different political activities. It moderates and assists political campaigns and target voters online. Cambridge Analytica has built a database with over 5,000 data points and data of over 230 million American voters.
The data allowed the political campaigns to target the voters with customised messages with precise accuracy.
The data acquired from the users has been alleged to come from Facebook, and most importantly without user consent. According to a whistleblower, the personal data has been taken and been passed on to Cambridge Analytica.
How Did Facebook React?
Facebook immediately suspended Cambridge Analytica from its site, which prohibits it from buying ads on Facebook or access data. The company has acquired data of 50 million Facebook users without their consent and used it for the political campaigns.
Issuing clarification, Facebook has said that the data was provided to the firm by a Cambridge University researcher to create a personality quiz on Facebook and not for any other purpose. It also added that it provides data for research experiments to be used by scientists for building psychological profiles.
How The Data Got Compromised?
According to Facebook’s developer policies, it allows user data to be used in certain ways like research and games. But Facebook doesn’t allow any developer to use any data for other things, which is what Cambridge Analytica is accused of doing. The user data of the Facebook users ended up to be a part of voter modelling.
The Quiz successfully transferred data of 50 million people (includes profiles of users and their friends) who took what was marked as a fun. The throwaway quiz was actually taking down all the detailed information to be used in the political campaigns, which was later used by Analytica to manipulate voting intentions in the future.
Why Is Facebook Data So Critical?
Firstly, it provides all the general demographic data which can be used for any purpose. Personality traits are precursors to our behaviour. Facebook tracks all our activity like what we are ‘liking’, how we are reacting to a post, our texting habits and what we do on Facebook, which tells a lot about an individual.
That’s how Facebook Ads work, they target users with such specific traits and does a psychological profiling before showing a particular ad. Similarly, Cambridge Analytica made use of the Facebook data to target users to manipulate their voting decisions.
Facebook straightaway dismissed the claims and said Cambridge Analytica was “certified” three years back and it had deleted the stored information on the request from Facebook. The company further added that if the claims are true, it will take the appropriate legal action.
On the other side, Cambridge Analytica too denied any wrongdoing.It denied using Facebook data in the Trump election campaign and also added, the whistleblower, Christopher Wylie was a contractor and not a founder of the business.
Most likely, Facebook will now be investigated by the FTC which will check whether the internet giant has taken adequate steps to protect its data.
Finally, a structured law for data handling and protection may come up, and the governments and legal bodies around the world will get to understand what internet can do, and how some the big companies are misusing it.
WhatsApp Co-founder Urges People To Delete Facebook
WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who left the company when Facebook took over, has gone against Facebook and has urged people to delete the app. He has started a new hashtag campaign on Twitter #deletefacebook.
Facebook bought WhatsApp for a whopping $19 Billion in 2014. The messaging platform has also been accused by experts of giving away user data to Facebook for its marketing and customer targeting purposes.
We need stronger global data protection laws with more regulation. India has one of its biggest elections coming up in less than a year. You never know, you too might get manipulated unknowingly by Facebook and the internet!