Privacyintact Blog

What is Facebook Data Privacy Scandal?

Written by Ken Pearson

Since 2018, Facebook has unleased promises and apologies to assure its users. When the Cambridge Analytica story became viral in 2018, Facebook usage has dropped ever since. For years, Facebook has permitted organizations to access user data for targeted advertising, specifically political advertising.

The social network found itself in some trouble over a wide variety of concerns, ranging from Rusian interference, data privacy to fake news. Many apologies have been given by the company and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for its mistakes. However, scandals are still rising.

According to The New York Times, Facebook provided exclusive access to user data to technology firms. For instance, Netflix, Microsoft, and Spotify without user consent. Attorney General Karl Racine sued Facebook for allowing Cambridge Analytica, which is a political consulting and strategic communication firm, to access information for approximately 87 million users.

The CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg responded by saying, “We have the responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we do not deserve it”. In this post, we have gathered all the information about the Facebook data privacy scandal. Read on to see our findings.

 

The Start of 2018

Facebook began the year relatively fair. It had a huge announcement that it would show users more posts from their families and friends in their News Feed in response to allegations that it was too much-prioritized content from brands, businesses, and media. Mack Zuckerberg said in a post that he desired Facebook to be “good for people’s well-being.” Also, in a call discussion, he said, “We have great products here that people love”.

In addition, the company claimed that it would do its best to ensure news was coming from “trusted sources.” It said it would prioritize local news and publishing social media and democracy content.  Furthermore, it said it was preparing for new privacy regulations out of Europe since it “takes data security and the privacy of people very seriously.”

Facebook had transformed over the years and come to understand some of its obligations. Facebook, maybe, was getting better. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

 

Then Cambridge Analytica Scandal Broke

Shortly before the news went viral, Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie, and Aleksandr Kogan, the researcher who gathered the information from the site. Immediately, Facebook’s stocks dropped.

On March 17, 2018, a whistleblower named Christopher Wylie shared his story with The Guardian and The New York Times about a political consulting firm known as Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica had collected Facebook info on 10 million American users without their consent to create a “psychological warfare tool”. This tool was used on United States voters to aid elect Donald Trump as president. Cambridge Analytica denied all the allegations involving illegal harvesting of personal data of Facebook users with the objective to influence US voters in 2016.

According to the whistleblower Wylie, the firm harvested personal data via a personality quiz application, known as thisisyourdigitallife. It is based on the OCEAN personality model (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism). Data collected through this application is beneficial in creating a “psychographic” profile of users. Installing the program to your Facebook account in order to do the quiz gives the owner of the program access to personal data and even history for the person doing the quiz.

Also, it gathers info of the friends that a person has on Facebook. This information includes all the things that a person and his/her friends have liked (double tap) on Facebook. Researchers affiliated with Cambridge University reported in a paper that “it can be used to automatically and correctly predict a number of highly critical personal attributes, including religious, sexual orientation, race and political opinions, personality traits, competence, happiness, addictive drug use, parental separation, age, and gender.”

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal went viral, regulators, politicians, and users worldwide were disappointed. Investigations were carried on to determine whether Facebook has broken a 2011 consent order. Facebook apologized, which was evident in the newspapers.

 

Facebook Responds

If you have a Facebook account, you have definitely used its login which enables you to create an account with Facebook credentials through a third party application. It is simple, but it provides programmers with access to user data, for example, email addresses, phone numbers, and data from the public profile.

Zuckerberg has tried to clarify that Facebook has prevented third-party applications from having too much info and that the company has begun, “limiting the information data applications users get when they sign up.”

 

Mack Zuckerberg gets some issues In Europe.

In May, it was the turn of European politicians to shot their shot at Mark Zuckerberg, who appeared before their parliament. Luckily, European lawmakers had a stronger grip on Facebook’s activities and confronted Mark Zuckerberg with intense, critical questions. Unfortunately, Zuckerberg was given ten minutes at the end of the hearing to defend himself.

Also in May, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), a new regulation on privacy and data processing, came into effect in Europe. The Guardian reported the same month a complaint brought by an application programmer named Six4Three against Facebook in the United States that argued its data policies favored certain firms over others.

Facebook could theoretically also face a $1.6 billion fine out of Europe for a subsequent data leak.

 

More Scandals

In June, the New York Times revealed that Facebook granted several sixty device manufacturers access to user information. For instance, Huawei, which is a Chinese telecommunications giant that the United States has been raising suspicions about for decades. In addition, Facebook exposed glitches over the summer that allows users to determine whom they connected with and whom they blocked.

In August, Facebook blocked Alex Jones, who was a conspiracy theorist. Later that month, the government filed charges alleging that Facebook had broken the Fair Housing Act by letting advertisements to target against some groups. Facebook responded by saying it would cut the ads.

 

Conclusion

Facebook has taken a hit. Staff morale is poor, which has led to the quitting of employees. Also, the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp have resigned. Furthermore, the stock price of Facebook has fallen by more than 20%. Besides that, Zuckerberg has lost approximately $15 billion.

Despite all that, Facebook apologized and did amendments. Facebook believes it offers great products.

PrivacyIntact is ran by privacy advocates. We believe the public has the right to be kept safe from privacy breach wheter those come from a criminal hacker or a legitimate entity such as the government. Privacy is protect by law and citizens should have access to tools that help them protect their rights.

 

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