#DeleteFacebook is trending after explosive reports that the tech company could have swayed the US presidential election through shady data sharing
20 Marzo 2018 18:11
Tech giant Facebook is under intense scrutiny and has found itself in a world of trouble after it admitted that a company linked to US President Donald Trump’s campaign accessed the data of millions of users via improper means.
The bombshell discovery - widely reported on by The New York Times and various UK media outlets - has put a huge question mark over whether data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica tried to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign, and possibly Brexit in the UK.
It is alleged that a personality test on Facebook was used to glean information from millions of profiles to sway election results.
UK MPs have summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before a select committee investigating fake news, accusing his company of misleading them at a previous hearing. US senators have called on Zuckerberg to testify before Congress about how Facebook will protect users.
The knock-on effects of these findings are likely to be seismic-shifting. Here is everything you need to know.
Facebook allowed University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan to gather personal information from users who downloaded his app, thisisyourdigitallife. The app offered a common personality test, like those often seen across the internet and on Facebook.
However, Facebook users who downloaded the app also gave the professor permission to collect data on their location, their friends and content they had liked, which was permitted under the company’s rules at the time.
The New York Times alleges that Kogan then provided data from over 50 million profiles to London-based Cambridge Analytica, breaching Facebook's rules. At the time, Cambridge Analytica was trying to develop techniques that could influence voters.
Facebook claimed it asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the data in 2015, but apparently only learned a few days ago from news reports that not all of it had been wiped.
Cambridge Analytica has publicly assured that the data revealed by The New York Times was not used ‘as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign.’
And yet, the controversial company was plunged into further disarray on Monday after Britain’s Channel 4 aired a report showing CEO Alexander Nix discussing potential bribery and entrapment of politicians.
Nix is seen suggesting the encounters could be filmed and posted to the internet. Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that the undercover Channel 4 report was ‘edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature of those conversations and how the company conducts its business.’
Facebook has found itself on the defensive over its role in the 2016 presidential election for some time. Although CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially refuted claims that Facebook could have been used to influence voters, a number of revelations over Russian interference have caused the company to make big changes.
It pledged to get tough on fake news and make political advertising more transparent. But now Zuckerberg has a new set of accusations to explain.
There could be major implications for the company's business model, which is predicated upon selling user data to app developers and advertisers. Also stricter regulation on the company could have disastrous effects for its growth and standing as a social network.
Facebook's stock shares tumbled nearly 7% on Monday, cutting about $37 billion off the value of the company.
US Lawmakers have called on Zuckerberg to explain his company's actions. The UK's Information Commissioner's Office said Monday that it was trying to obtain a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica in London.
What these revelations are likely to do is embolden calls for tighter regulation of tech companies and the way they data collect and share. The industry is already gearing up for tough new data privacy rules in Europe, and similar measures could be considered elsewhere.