Over the last few weeks I’d been hearing and seeing the words ‘Cambridge analytical’ on the news and social media, alongside the hashtag #DeleteFacebook. Although, vaguely aware of what was going on I hadn’t taken the time out to do a bit of digging to become more informed about what was actually going on. My attentions have been focused on the concerning increase in youth violence in London and the last two assignments of my master’s degree that had deadline drawing imminently.
However, after talking with a friend recently, they brought to my attention how bad the situation is and why we should be aware and concerned about it. So let me breakdown the main premise of the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal, take a hold of your seat because it really is like something out of Black Mirror.
It is believed that up to 87 million Facebook users have had their personal data improperly sold and used by the political consultancy firm – Cambridge Analytica. This information came to light after one of Cambridge Analytica’s own employees played whistleblower.
The information that this company has acquired not only includes everything available on our personal profiles, e.g. ages, school, work, interests, friends etc., but also information obtained from the ‘fun’ quiz and games that reveal your personality type, religious beliefs, sexual orientation etc. and information from third party apps that connect through Facebook e.g Tinder, Myproteinapp and Instagram. The whistleblower emphasised that this data was used by Cambridge Analytica to psychologically profile people and to target individuals for political propaganda to the extent of being used to push a pro-Trump agenda in the US presidential elections AND to infiltrate our very own EU Brexit referendum.
Surprising and unsurprisingly both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica deny any wrong doing in this situation. But this hasn’t stopped people from deleting their facebook accounts and taking to twitter to push the #DeleteFacebook hashtag. It has also had a grave effect on Facebook’s stock market price. Thestreet.com present a great graph that helps illustrate the timeline of events.
The Bigger issue
Our Data is VALUABLE and big firms are finding sneakier and more deceitful ways of collecting our data whilst making the amount of information we share about ourselves and friends and family with our electronic devise normalised.
I read a tweet thread the other day that showed all the information that google has and is continuing to collect about us, from a timeline of your location to contacts and access to your camera and calendar, they store all your search history/youtube search history and information from every app you use i.e. where you use them, who you use them to interact with, what countries are you speaking with and even what time you go to bed. They use this to create an advertisement profile based on all this information they have extracted.
By the end of the thread I can’t lie I was SHOOK, I’ll leave the link to the thread here so that you can have a look for yourself. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments section below. However, thankfully, within the comments section of the thread (yes I got that deep into it! lol) someone provides an alternative search engine called DuckDuckGo.com whose business model is based on NOT tracking their users activity. You can use it as your default search engine in both IPhone’s and Macbook’s, I changed mine and it works exactly the same as google, so I would 100% recommend it!
What is the expected outcome of this scandal? – honestly, we aren’t really sure yet. We know that Facebook has implemented tighter privacy settings and an investigation is ongoing to find out if Cambridge Analytica has indeed deleted all our personal information. Furthermore, The Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is expected testify before the US House Commerce Committee on Wednesday April. He has also been called to court in the UK which he has stated he will not be attending himself.
One article by the Metro stated that Facebook users could receive as much as £12,500 in compensation if they can prove that having their data shared has caused them ‘distress ‘. If you live by the ‘rob this England’ motto then you need to start practicing your puppy faces and preparing your tear ducts, so that you’re ready when they inform you that your data has been extracted and exploited.
By Toro Kehinde