Cambridge Analytica scandal continues to grow as Facebook falters
Social media users are still reeling as more information about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where surveys on Facebook allegedly exposed data on 50 million Facebook users, which was possibly given to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
The scandal came to focus after whistle blower Christopher Wylie came forward in an investigative expose by The Guardian, which found that while Wylie worked on psychological profiles of potential voters, he was encouraged to harvest data of millions of users who did not consent to their surveys, through an app used by their Facebook friends.
“We ‘broke’ Facebook,” Wylie said in the article. “I’ll point out that I assumed it was entirely legal and above board.”
Cambridge Analytica was founded by former senior advisor Steve Bannon, who was approached by the conservative campaign donors, Rebekah and Robert Mercer, to fund a political consulting firm. Bannon then became vice president of Cambridge Analytica, and during the election, he was allegedly the connection to Trump campaign to join the two groups.
Cambridge Analytica, due to public response, has released multiple press releases about the scandal.
“Cambridge Analytica ‘s Commercial and Political divisions use social media platforms for outward marketing, delivering data-led and creative content to targeted audiences,” one press release stated. “They do not use or hold data from Facebook profiles.”
Facebook itself has faced a growing blowback in the past days because of their perceived involvement and failure to protect user data. FSC Professor William Allen points out that their culpability is harder to pinpoint than readers would expect.
“The big question everyone is asking if is this is legal or illegal,” Allen said. “Using user data in this way is certainly frightening, but due to the terms laid out in Facebook’s terms and conditions, its hard to say that both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook were out of their rights by using this data.”
Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took out full-page ads in both American and British newspapers to apologize for the scandal after an announcement to start limiting the number of data certain apps receive from their users.
Nevertheless, Facebook stated in relation to another mounting scandal on the amount of data scraped from Android users, that they clearly lay out their practices to their users.
“People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone—it’s explained right there in the apps when you get started,” the company said in a statement to The Guardian. “People can delete previously uploaded information at any time.”
As Facebook continues damage control, the White House and the Trump campaign continue to distance themselves from the rising amount of information being broken. FSC student Kierra Hickenbottom found the silence worrying and questioned her continued usage of Facebook.
“I believe that there is still a lot of information about the situation that isn’t being told yet,” Hickenbottom said. “What I really want to know is if someone has all of my information right now and if there is any way to potentially get it back.”
(photo provided by Nam Y. Huh/ AP)