We need to talk about Zuckerberg
Here is a very simple and concise version of the whole situation and why the media has picked it up and run with it:
Firstly, there was the data for 50 million users. At this point in time, the exact type of data leaked by Facebook to Cambridge Analytica is unknown. Cambridge Analytics is a political consulting firm who have worked on the Trump campaign in the past.
Why is this more of a scandal for Facebook than Cambridge Analytica?
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, released a statement on the data leak which stated, “I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Attempting to expand on this, he later comments that “the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do and we need to step up and do it”.
Former employees of Facebook have commented on the ongoing friction between the security team and the legal team, on multiple occasions, on how the user protection is prioritised and their decision making.
How did they get the data?
From the 50 million users whose Facebook data was exposed, approximately 270,000 of them had used the quiz app ‘thisismydigitallife’, built on Facebook’s platform by the researcher Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American working at Cambridge University. So, how did that small amount of users then gather data from 50 million users? The quiz exposed a huge loophole in Facebook’s quiz API which allowed them to collect further data from the Facebook friends of the quiz takers. As an average user has 338 friends, this amplified the amount of users.
Facebook previously prohibited the selling of their data (raw of targeted) but Cambridge Analytica sold the data anyway.
This has now fuelled a much large global debate over how much a Facebook user can trust Facebook with their data. They (Facebook) allowed a third party (Cambridge Analytica) to engineer an application with the sole purpose of collecting all the user data that they could get their cyber hands on, all without them knowing or giving their permission.
What does this mean for the average Facebook user?
If this was a one-off error it would be different. Unfortunately, however, Facebook has known about this for more than two years and it appears that only now that they have been caught are they now admitting that they made a mistake.
For many people, this is the final straw and they have left the social media platform as a result. The number of people that have deleted the app is an increasing number.
Will you be leaving Facebook behind now or will you wait to see if there is another security slip-up?