Unless you don’t keep up with the news or haven’t witnessed the steady stream of Mark Zuckerberg memes, you are probably aware that Facebook is under fire for a data privacy scandal. The political conversation about data analytics can be confusing, so we thought we would break down the situation.
So what actually happened?
This issue stems back to the 2016 US election involving a company called Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica is a consulting firm which uses data mining and strategic communication to aid commercial and political campaigns. During the election, the Trump Campaign worked with Cambridge Analytica to collect and analyze data from Facebook users to support his presidential campaign. The firm was also believed to be involved with Ted Cruz shortly before the election.
While the collection of social data isn’t new to political campaigns (Barack Obama reportedly used social analytics during his campaign), the method Cambridge Analytica used to collect this data was quite shady. Using a survey app called This Is Your Digital Life, Cambridge Analytica collected data from Facebook users as well as their friends (when their privacy settings allowed it). Overall, it is estimated that data on approximately 87 million users was collected through the app.
Word spread about the situation and several US & UK lawmakers, including the Federal Trade Commission, began investigating. As a result of the ongoing investigations, Mark Zuckerberg has appeared before Congress to apologize and answer questions about the data privacy scandal.
Does this affect you at all?
Although the vast majority of profiles that were breached were US residents, Facebook claims that approximately 620,000 Canadian profiles were also breached. In response to this scandal, Facebook has created a Cambridge Analytica support page that can tell you if your information was shared or not.
Want to learn more?
The Verge gives a detailed account of the entire situation.