Facebook have been featured heavily in the news this week following a huge data breach affecting 50 million of its users. The social media platform and it's CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been hit hard as the scandal unfolded this week in the news to reveal user personal data was unlawfully taken by a 3rd party and supposedly used to manipulate political campaigns.
Facebook's share prices have fallen drastically reducing the company's value by around $57 Billion (£41 Billion). Ouch!
So, what happened?
Mark Zuckerberg's giant social media company, Facebook allows businesses and 3rd parties to use the platform for advertising and marketing campaigns.
The scandal is around user data and privacy where a UK based data analytics company Cambridge Analytica are accused of using personal data belonging to millions of users via an app to manipulate and sway the outcome of the 2016 US election and the UK Brexit referendum.
The data was apparently used to psychologically profile people and send 'pro-Trump' advertising material to help drive voting polls in his favour during the US presidential campaign. Naughty or what!
A Facebook app was involved where 270,00 users took a personality quiz in 2014 and was the source of the data collected.
The app collected data from the users (and their Facebook friends!) without proper consent which worked out to around 50 Million people. Cambridge Analytica used the data for the their purposes. The big failing on Facebook's part is that they allowed it to happen.
Who are Cambridge Analytica?
As well as looking 'very dodgy' in all this, Cambridge Analytica are a data analytics company who work on political campaigns and brand marketing to analyse target audiences and voting behaviours of the public.
They use a methodology called psychographics which is all about the psychological side of consumer personalities, opinions, interests and how it affects buying habits driven by marketing. This also applies to analysing how people vote. Once these companies have a psychological profile of a user, they can then send advertising or email spam geared toward what they want the user to see. Mind games!
This gets dodgier by the minute! This company had links and financial backing involvement with Donald Trump's political campaign and was also heavily linked to the then UKIP driven leave campaign (leave.ea) which led to Brexit.
Making sure your data is protected
On social media platforms it's more important than ever to make sure your accounts and data are secure. Checking your Privacy settings and app preferences is a must to make sure you know what you are sharing.
Ad Blockers should be also installed on your device where possible to stop unwanted advertising malware getting through.
Or just do what a lot of people seem to have done and sack social media altogether. Only problem there is not being able to see those hilarious video clips of a cat doing a backflip and not being able to keep track of what your friends are having for dinner! Yawn. Also keep an eye out for those subtle adverts that appear in your social media pages or at the side of websites.
So in summary..
In the digital age we now live in, this is a massive wakeup call that isn't going to just blow over.
Facebook are coming under heavy criticism and rightfully so. Since the personal data that Facebook exists upon relates to people, then data protection laws apply. Once we post or share something on social media, it is then out in the public domain regardless of privacy settings. It could be said that if we put our personal information 'out there' for all to see, then we shouldn't be surprised if it ends up in the wrong hands.
After all, the information that floats around on social media platforms has in the most part been voluntarily shared by the user.
When it comes to dodgy 3rd parties like Cambridge Analytica, taking this data using it to manipulate political campaigns (allegedly), the whole thing becomes even more sinister and makes you think what else goes on with our data out there in cyber space. This is bound to result in a law being passed on regulation of data held on social media. Facebook are huge and have a responsibility to handle this stuff.
Hold out your hand Mark Zuckerberg - it's a slap on the wrist time for you!
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