Facebook’s co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg is under a major problem due to Cambridge Analytica. An investigation was started by the Federal Trade Commission regarding this issue. The investigation will focus on how Cambridge Analytica was able to use the raw data of fifty million Facebook users.
Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal
Cambridge Analytica is a voter profiling company and a political consulting firm which was working with the Trump Campaign at that time. Raw data of approximately fifty million Facebook users was given to a researcher who worked for the Cambridge Analytica.
How did Cambridge Analytica get a hold of the data?
The CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Alexander Nix contacted Julian Assange who is the founder of Wikileaks. The reason behind this contact was the emails that got hacked from the Democratic National Committee. Facebook had exposed information of fifty million of its users to Aleksandr Kogan who is a Russian American and a former employee at the University of Cambridge. A former employee of the firm Cambridge Analytica, states that the firm received the raw data of the 50 million Facebook users from Aleksandr Kogan.
Aleksandr Kogan’s Scheme
To get the data of the 50 million Facebook users, Aleksandr Kogan developed a Facebook app which was a personality quiz. The quiz was named ‘thisismydigitallife’. The data was collected through this quiz. Whoever took the quiz, fell into the trap and gave away their raw data to Kogan. Now, the twist here was that due to a loophole in the Facebook API, the quiz also took the raw data of the friends of those 270,000 people who took the quiz. When Facebook came to know about this, they prohibited the selling of that raw data. But despite Facebook’s multiple protests, Aleksandr Kogan sold the data to Cambridge Analytica anyway.
Aleksandr Kogan has responded to these allegations by saying that he is being used as a scapegoat. According to him, he is being unfairly accused by Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. He also claims that he thought they were doing something which is ‘completely normal’. This statement of Kogan shows that he was completely unaware of the fact that his actions were illegal.
Why is Facebook being dragged instead of Cambridge Analytica and Kogan?
Facebook has been receiving most of the backlash because the bone of contention is not how Donald Trump got elected. The main issue is the privacy concern of the Facebook users. Those fifty million people had trusted Facebook with their private data which was exploited by Facebook by allowing a third party to collect raw data from those 50 million Facebook users.
Sandy Parkilas, a former employee of Facebook who worked at the privacy side reveals that the people whose job is to protect are constantly in conflict with the ones who are just focusing on making money even if it means putting people’s privacy at stake. Other former employees of Facebook also reveal that there has always been some sort of tension between the Legal Policy Department and the Security Team at Facebook.
Facebook’s Response has been overall apologetic and they have accepted their mistake on their part. Mark Zuckerberg says that he has been trying to understand as to what exactly had happened. He states that he has been finding ways to prevent this and these ways were present before as well but, they failed to work.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Testimony
Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to testify in front of the Congress of United States of America. The date has not been decided as of yet. But according to reports, the testimony is scheduled on 12th April 2018. Before agreeing to testify, Mark Zuckerberg had denied multiple invitations and summons to testify before the Parliament of the United Kingdom which was found ‘absolutely astonishing’ by the UK Parliament. Hence, the venue for the big trial shall be Washington and not London.
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