by John Shafer
If you don’t know the scandal around Facebook by now, with the hearings, the questions, and articles posted all over the internet then you have been living under a rock. Let’s just give a refresher for the ones that don’t know…
In 2015, there was a data breach by a company named Cambridge Analytica, in which introduced an app that obtained information from Facebook Users and all the users Facebook friends. This data breech was estimated at not above 87 million users. Which there were only 270,000 people had downloaded the notorious ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ app used by Cambridge Analytica to gather user data.
Mark Zuckerberg, instead of announcing that the breech occurred, told the company to erase the data from their databased, and took them at their word that the deed was done. Which seems a little naive to me for the 2nd riches man in the world to believe. Considering that the company maliciously took advantage of a system in place to harvest the data in the first place. To view if your information was acquired by the app you can go to this link and the page will tell you if your information was shared.
So how was this ‘data’ used to sway political campaigns. So, the data that was stolen or ‘obtained from Facebook’ was able to be put together comprehensive profiles of voters and then use them in Ad Campaigning, using campaigning tool that Facebook has made available for years. One of the most important pieces of information that campaigns get is the identity of influencers. Algorithms see which individuals are influential among their social groups, and those people are targeted for advertising. Sway the influencer, the thought goes, and they’ll sway their friends. In 2018 the announcement was made that the Trump Campaigned had hired none other than Cambridge Analytica.
Who is Cambridge Analytica, they are a voter-profiling company that boast to have “conducted behavioral change programs in over 60 countries”. So, for them to have stolen profile information from at least 87 million people that could be used to change the outcome of an election, is not so preposterous is it?
The Trial – Congress Questionnaire
The Congress questions to the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg in the questioning of the breech and how the CEO will prevent this from happening in the future was comical at best. These are people that are trusted with the responsibility to protect our privacy and well being on the net. If they were a little bit more knowledgeable about what it is that Facebook does maybe they could have aske the right questions of the CEO. Here are just a few examples of questions that were asked of Mr. Zuckerberg:
- South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham (R) asked, “Is Twitter the same as what you do?”
Zuckerberg’s response was it overlaps some of what we do.
This question was asked to inquire if Facebook was a monopoly in its industry.
- Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz (D) asked, “If I’m emailing within WhatsApp…does that inform your advertisers?”
The Senator seems unaware that WhatsApp is a chat platform not an email platform. Zuckerberg held back the temptation to correct him and stated, “content on WhatsApp would not lead to related ads.”
- Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (R) asked, “How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”
Zuckerberg kept a straight face and said, “Senator we run ads.”
- Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D) asked, “What if I don’t want to receive [ads for chocolate]?”
Zuckerberg responded with, users can turn off third-party information within Facebook if they don’t want that info used to select ads for them. But, he added, “even though some people don’t like ads, people really don’t like ads that aren’t relevant.”
There were so many more useless questions that were ask of the CEO, the questioning lasted for 5 hours. One of the Senators asked if internet would be brought to their community that doesn’t have internet because it is a rural area. Through it all the CEO kept his composer and answered the questions like a champ.
Is This the Beginning of the End?
Despite the scandal and the trial Facebook as of now seems to be handling the whole thing quite well with stocks skyrocketing even though a campaign has ignited called #DeleteFacebook. Was Facebooks’ cover up of the data breach a sign of ethical deception to its customers? I believe that it was not as innocent as the CEO makes it out to be, but will we ever know the truths of that event, not with the current knowledge of our government on the subject.
Facebook was hit hard by these events with Facebook’s Stock still down from marches high of 185.61 to today’s price 166.98, that is an 18.63-point difference that needs to be made up. This is billions of dollars in market capitalization. Not to mention the $14 billion dollars in person loss to the CEO who is now worth $61 billion. Analyst Brent Thill claims that time spent on the platform is up by 15% on average in March 2018. It looks like Facebook isn’t going anywhere soon, for sure not going to be another myspace.
If you would like to see Facebooks strategies to correct the problems visit here.