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The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Controversy

The latest Facebook and Cambridge Analytica fiasco has left the world stunned. The social media platform has come under intense scrutiny after it revealed that a total of 87 million users were impacted by the data sharing to Cambridge Analytica as opposed to the earlier predicted 50 million.

Of the given number, about half a million are said to be from India.

The social media giant accepted on April 4 at the bottom of their blog post by Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer to the breach that happened.

“In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the US — may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica,” he said in his blog. BBC later reported that 1 million of those 87 million users were from the UK. But what is this controversy exactly?

March 2018

The controversy saw the global light when the social media giant accepted that the data of their users was shared with Cambridge Analytica, a firm which is tied to Trump’s election campaign and megadonors that are right-leaning, and was used without the consent of the giant and the users. Ever since the giant has suspended Cambridge Analytica’s access to the platform. The platform, however, took a beating as its market share dipped by $50 billion as soon as the scandal came to light. The U.S. and U.K. lawmakers have even asked Mark Zuckerberg to testify before their court on the company’s practices.

What is the story?

Facebook had allowed a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, Aleksandr Kogan to collect user data strictly for academic purposes. He owned a company called Global Science Research and wanted to harvest data on the users who downloaded his app. It was later reported by The Guardian that the data harvested was also of the users’ friends who did not consent or download his app. The problem started when Kogan decided t sell this data to Cambridge Analytica. Christopher Wylie, who worked as the Director of Research at CA quit his job in 2014.

In early 2018, Wylie sent documents to the Guardians that suggested that Cambridge Analytica had misused the user information of 87 million people on Facebook to potentially tamper with the U.S. elections in 2016. Later on March 27, he submitted further revelations on practices by Cambridge Analytica and its associated companies. Since then, lawmakers on both the sides of the Atlantic have begun their investigation on the long asked questions of digital privacy.

What does Cambridge Analytica do?

Wylie, the whistleblower of the whole fiasco, went on NBC’s Today Show to describe in detail what the firm did. According to him, the firm was “founded on misappropriated data of at least 50 million Facebook users.” He said that the company’s goal was to establish profiling algorithms that would “allow us to explore mental vulnerabilities of people, and then map out ways to inject information into different streams or channels of content online so that people started to see things all over the place that may or may not have been true.”

Basically, the company is a political analysis firm that has previously claimed to build psychological profiles of voters in order to help its clients win elections. The particular election in question is the U.S. election in 2016. This comes closely a year after allegations were made over the involvement of Russia in the elections.

The profiling was done by powering algorithms that made the fake news seem real. Wylie claimed at the Today Show that the company, Cambridge Analytica has ties with Russian Oil Companies. If this is true the ties can complicate things for Facebook which is now working 24X7 on improving the privacy terms of its users.

What does Facebook have to say?

In a post on Facebook Mark Zuckerberg went on to admit the misuse of user data they approved for Kogan. “In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social…To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them….In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time, this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.”

He acknowledged that journalists had informed Facebook in 2015 that Kogan was sharing this data with Cambridge Analytica. The company soon suspended Kogan’s apps from the social network because they violated Facebook policies, he added.

“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that,” he wrote on Facebook.

In his blog, Schroepfer also mentioned nine ways in which Facebook is now working to better protect user data. These changes are said to limit the access third-party apps have to user-information from Facebook.

How do I know if I was impacted?

Facebook has in accordance with its statements, released a tool that can determine whether you were one of the half a million users impacted in India. Follow the steps given below:

    • Log in to your Facebook Account.
    • Visit the Facebook Help center Page titled, ‘How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?’ The page goes on to explain the whole process to check if you were among the ones impacted.
    • There appears a box named ‘Was my information shared?’ and below it is the answer to your question.

 

  • If your information has not been in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, the answer would show as
    ”neither you nor your friends have logged into ‘This are Your Digital Life.’ As a result, it doesn’t appear your Facebook information was shared with Cambridge Analytica by ‘This is Your Digital Life’.”

 

With Facebook’s assurance that we’ll know if our information has been shared, the company has gained momentum in the good graces of people. However, its responsibility towards storing and its ability to protect user data are still in question. The case will come to an end with the investigation conclusions of lawmakers in both the U.S and the U.K.

About the author:

HiMogul is a Digital Marketing agency with years of experience in providing the best possible services in PPC, SEO, SMM, UX, UI designing Website and App developments. If you are looking for someone to convert your website into HTTPS, contact us today for a smooth transition.

 

References:

  • https://marketingland.com/facebook-cambridge-analytica-what-we-know-what-they-knew-where-that-leaves-us-238143
  • http://time.com/5205314/facebook-cambridge-analytica-breach/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Wylie
  • http://www.techiyogiz.com/2018/04/how-to-check-if-your-facebook-data-was-shared-with-cambridge-analytica.html?m=1

 

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