Hacker News reports that Facebook’s market value has been dropping at unprecedented levels due to the new information that came to light about their misuse of users’ personal data. Cambridge Analytica, a British analytics firm, obtained personal information about over 50 million users and allegedly helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election. Whistleblower Chris Wylie claims the Cambridge Analytica gathers personal data from a variety of sources to predict citizens’ voting patterns and uses that information to target voters with certain advertisements.
Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan started Cambridge Analytica four years ago when he created an online personality quiz that asked users to provide access to their Facebook data in order to take the quiz. About 270,000 people took the quiz, giving Kogan access not only all of these people’s personal data, but that of their Facebook friends as well, allowing Kogan to target over 50 million users with tailored ads, even though these users did not give Kogan permission to access their data.
When a user takes these kinds of personality quizzes and other apps that you access through Facebook, they are granting the app developer access to a variety of information and data. The ‘Login with Facebook” option that many websites are using to provide one-click log-ins provide similar permissions. If you would like to stop these websites from having access to your Facebook data, you can go to the Settings>Apps menu on your computer and mobile device and see the apps that you’ve logged into using Facebook, and edit or remove the permissions that you’ve granted.
Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for this ‘breach of trust,’ saying that he should have never allowed third-parties access to that kind of personal data. He blindly trusted Cambridge Analytica, and says it’s the biggest mistake that they have made at Facebook since its inception. He claims he is dedicated to making sure it doesn’t happen again, and is conducting a ‘full forensic audit’ to discover which apps took information without complete consent and how Facebook can prevent this kind of security breach in the future. He also says that they will have over 20,000 employees designated to monitor security, but that the true issue lies in government regulations, which he believes should better protect consumer privacy on social media platforms.
Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, has been suspended after a video surfaced of him discussing using bribes and prostitutes to sway political elections, saying things like how he could send prostitutes to opposing candidates’ homes to put them in suspect situations. Cambridge has denied following through on any of Nix’s tactics, but their Facebook privacy breach is plenty to make them the biggest scandal in tech.