This all new revolution of technology is good for us for making our life easier than before but also creating a huge threat to our privacy. Every person usages minimum of 30 minutes of the Internet in his daily routine. Today we prefer to save our important passwords and details in iCloud. This is now part of our lives and we can’t help it because it’s all around us. But this revolution is also giving an invitation to a huge problem which we can’t even see now.
You must have heard of Equifax data breach in which 147.9 million Americans were affected and their driver’s license number got revealed. Most people impacted by the breach had their Social Security Number exposed.
Now Facebook data scandal which is even bigger and more dangerous. This time it has the potential to control the whole democratic process. This one is more complicated and technical. We have tried our best to explain to you the whole scandal and what are their consequences now and what more are coming with that. So, let’s check out the terrible truth behind Facebook data scandal.
10. When it all started
‘Aleksandr Kogan’, a Russian American professor who was working with the Global Market Research company. Kogan created a Facebook personality quiz app called “thisisyourdigitallife” and used his credentials for research purpose. So, when a user agrees to take that quiz using a Facebook account, it pulls all data from your profile. Also, he found a loophole in Facebook’s API, by that he was able to pull all data from all the friends in the friend list of 270,000 users who took the quiz without even asking any permission. Which means that the user was not aware that by the single click, this app will fetch all the data from his/her profile and also the data from his/her friends profile as well.
9. Who is Cambridge Analytica?
‘Alexander Nix’, who was the director of SCL (Strategic Communication Laboratories) Group also well known for election influencer and ‘Steve Bannon’ a media executive formed this company with ‘Christopher Wylie’. Steve suggested naming it as Cambridge Analytica. ‘Robert Mercer’ also partly owns the company as he funded $15m to this company. Mainly company was known for the Data Mining, Data Brokerage, and Data Analysis with strategic communication for the electoral process.
8. Violation of Facebook Policy
‘Aleksandr Kogan’ who collected the data of 50 million Facebook users and transfers it to Cambridge Analytica for a good amount. Collecting data was not illegal but transferring it to other company without telling Facebook is the violation of policy. And for the Cambridge Analytica, this data was like a gold mine. From Facebook status, likes, comments, and even private messages Cambridge Analytica got high-quality real-time data to understand the behavior of 50 million persons in real life.
7. What Cambridge Analytica Did With Data.
You must have heard Cambridge Analytica’s name many times during American’s presidential election. ‘Steve Bannon’ who was the Chief Advisor of ‘Donald Trump’ and manager of the election campaign for him. And he used the Cambridge Analytica for the whole campaign process. Company influences the whole election process through different media platforms and used social media to spread much fake news, trolls against opposition using video and images as per their behavior and manipulated the psychology of voters and controlled the whole democratic process.
6. Facebook’s Attempt
When Facebook came to know about all these data leaks. They immediately banned the App and deleted the account of ‘Aleksandr Kogan’ and ‘Cambridge Analytica’. And also asked them to delete all the data which they have obtained through Facebook. They also asked them to issue a certificate that, they have deleted all the data. But, here is where Facebook went wrong. They didn’t actually follow up the process.
5. Whistleblower Christopher Wylie
Christopher Wylie was the guy who exposed the truth behind Facebook data leak and how others are using it. He was a data scientist who first met ‘Alexander Nix’ in the Summer of 2013. Then Nix introduced him to ‘Steve Bannon’ where they started Cambridge Analytica. Wylie worked there as a director of the company. Recently, in an interview, Wylie stated that Cambridge Analytica never deleted the data of 50 million Facebook users and still uses them for their different strategic businesses. He said that they are putting the whole democratic process at huge risk because they are playing with the psychology of all the voters in the country.
4. What Now They Are Doing With Data
Cambridge Analytica is now running social media influence business and propaganda. By analyzing those data now they have a better understanding of user’s behavior. So, with that, they are creating that kind of ads and products in which user is for sure going to engage even if they are not interested ever before. And this is just an example, there is a lot more going on behind the curtains and you can’t even see.
3. Facebook’s Recent Take
This is now returning a huge problem for Facebook. And their stock fell 13 percent lowest since 2012. In a recent interview with CNN Money Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “This is a major breach of trust and I am really sorry that this happened. We have a basic responsibility to product people data and if we can’t do that then we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people”. He also agreed that they have made a mistake by trusting Cambridge Analytica.
Now they are planning to review all the Apps who have access to a large amount of data. Also, we have to make sure that developers like ‘Aleksandr Kogan’ don’t get to access that amount of data and to introduce new AI tools to restrict them. Most of the users on Facebook right now must be thinking, if they have got affected or not? For that Facebook is going to build a tool to tell all the users whose profiles are affected by these kinds of Apps.
2. How They Can Control Us In Future
It’s more of technical but this is must know that how they are affecting your Internet life. First, if you are thinking that your privacy is being compromised then your privacy is gone years before and not coming back anytime soon.
This is all data science. Whatever you do online all the companies are maintaining data even of your single click. And if you’re thinking, how is that possible then in case of Google you can check yourself. You can go to “https://myactivity.google.com/” you’ll see all of your searches which you have made in Google search and also you’ll find all of your voice clips which you have searched in Google Assistant ‘just for fun’. If these kinds of data reach to wrong anchors in society, which happened recently, then they can control your whole Internet life. Because they understand you better than your friend. They can create an environment as per your psychology and just divert it wherever they want. By using this data, they can manipulate the conversation what you think by creating such kind of environment and culture as per your behavior. This is all happening nowadays and you can’t even see it.
In a more broad way, what they think is, if you want to change politics change the units of culture and the units of culture are people. So, if you want to change the politics change the culture and people and their behavior how they think. This is exactly what Russia and China did recently. They accessed data of all the citizens of their country used them to create fake news, trolls and runs campaigns to divert the election towards their favor. Now even our democratic process is also at risk.
1. What Is the Solution And We Can Do?
It is actually very tough to say that what we can do which will save us from all these problems. Now there is a campaign running called #deletefacebook. But are you really sure by just deleting a Facebook account you can secure your privacy? Because today we can’t live without the Internet, just admit it. So, it can be anywhere. What we can do is to ask for the transparency for ads which you see on your social media and who are running these ads. They must ask for our permission if they are providing our data to any App or organization. And the government also need to build strong legal regulations against the companies who are collecting our data without telling us.
That’s our article on the terrible truth behind Facebook data scandal. Let us know how you liked our article. Your feedback is valuable to us.