Should You be Mad About the Facebook Breach?
For the last few weeks, there has been national outrage about the supposed privacy breach of one of the world’s leading social media platforms: Facebook.
If like me, you, haven’t actually logged onto your Facebook account in a few months then you’re probably also thinking, “so what’s the big deal?” Well, to be honest, I didn’t know either so I researched what actually went down and here’s what I found.
Back in 2014, a British company called Cambridge Analytica hired a man named Aleksandr Kogan, a Soviet-American researcher who was tasked with producing an app to be shared through Facebook, that would allow Facebook users to take little surveys in exchange for money and the collection of their data. While that sounds all well and good, the catch that many failed to notice was in the ‘terms and conditions’ agreement. You know those terms and conditions agreements we all click that we agree but don’t actually read? Well this particular one on the Kogan app, This Is Your Digital Life, stated that the company could utilize and sell your data, as well as that of your friends whose privacy settings permitted. Because of this added detail, they were able to collect the information of around 87 million Facebook users (according to Facebook, there are approximately one billion Facebook users worldwide).
Kogan even wrote in an email that “We clearly stated that the users were granting us the right to use the data in broad scope, including selling and licensing the data”. Still sounds legit right? Well here’s the part where the trouble starts. Kogan told Facebook he was going to use the data that he collected for research purposes and so when it was sold to Cambridge Analytica who used it for advertising purposes, it became a problem. To further the issue, instead of coming forward with it when they heard, Facebook tried to force the companies to delete all the data which has not yet been confirmed successful. However, the smoking gun that landed the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, in front of Congress last week was that the data was used to “target voters with hyper-specific appeals, including on Facebook and other online services, that goes well beyond traditional messaging based on party affiliation alone” (Fortune).
While some argue that the use of this data in the 2016 election broke laws against the influence of outside nations in the United States presidential election, no personal laws were broken because of the user agreements. So, can you actually be mad about your data being taken? We live in a world where nothing that you put on the internet is ever truly private and it is your personal choice as to what you choose to share. People who utilize social media should know that everything is out there whether your settings are private or not, and claiming that is is unfair for a company to get data by that means may be true it in no way removes the personal responsibility. It’s legal and agreed to. Individuals have a right to protect their privacy, however, if you put your personal data on the world wide web for you’re opening yourself up to the world.
Another big complaint is that it influenced the presidential election, however, let’s be clear the likelihood that Cambridge Analytica advertisements were able to really sway enough peoples votes to cause a difference is pretty slim and there are plenty of other likelihoods as to how the man with the small hands and orange complexion won the seat of leading the most powerful nation on earth.