Cambridge Analytica use facebook Data without consent

Cambridge Analytica uses Facebook data without consent. Recently the Guardian/Observer collaborated with channel 4 and New York Times to shed a light on the wrongful obtaining and mishandling of people’s personal data by Cambridge Analytica. CA is a controversial political consulting firm, that had worked with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.  They have also had a role in Brexit, Uk and countless campaigns around the world (including Kenya and Sri Lanka campaigns). In the Trump election case, Cambridge Analytica wrongfully harvested personal information from 50 million Facebook accounts- without their consent.

Cambridge Analytica

They did this by inviting people to download an app called “Thisisyourdigitallife” disguised as an app that accesses your personality type. (Note beware of free Apps, they are usually used for gathering data and some are used for spying).   Not only were the people who directly downloaded the app affected, millions of their friend’s information was also harvested.  The information was then used to target voters by predicting their political leanings and the likelihood of being swayed.  In Ireland, a mere 15 people downloaded the app but 45,000 people were affected just by being friends with those people.

Cambridge Analytica Facebook

Some of the seemingly innocuous questions asked by Cambridge Analytica’s app – “thisisyourdigitallife”.

Social media has been long used in election campaigns.  The most famous one being Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008 and 2012.  Social media then was a platform to spur debate and start a conversation. Now, it has taken an exponential turn for the worst. Companies like Cambridge Analytica, global giants and politicians have exploited people’s private information online –  for their own gain.  Big Brother is definitely watching.   It is a scary thought to think that a powerful platform like Facebook can be used to manipulate opinion on a host of other issues. It’s getting more difficult to disseminate fake news from real news.  Fake news can be shared easily and even the everyday person is guilty of creating an image of themselves that isn’t true in real life. 

From a user and marketing perspective, personal data has been useful for creating better targeted campaigns and a better user experience.  The idea behind digital marketing content and campaigns is that you see information relevant and of interest to you.  Well produced content is not biased and not fake.  To help assist in this data is gathered From internet tags like cookies, and location tags to monitor consumer behaviour and gather information.  Ads are then targeted to provide users with (hopefully) helpful information based on their searches and their own personal requirements. Monitoring consumer trails has also proved useful for digital marketers and businesses who were more effectively able to target people to suit their business, whether it is Facebook, Google, Youtube etc. that is used.  

GDPR regulation Ireland

More and more stories continue to come out over Facebook privacy breaches since Cambridge Analytica had used Facebook data without consent.  However such scandals lead to reform and in this case it has led to new legislation to be created in order to protect people’s privacy.  The legalisation will affect both big and small businesses alike.  The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) directive is being rolled out in Europe on May 25th and will have a huge impact on how all companies customer data is regulated and organised.  Company size and location does not matter if they are handling data from European consumers.   This has led to American companies who service European businesses having to rewrite their Data Policy and reform their use of data (including Shopify, Mailchimp etc. who issued statements just this week).  So, whether they are big, small, public, or private each business will be regulated in the same manner. Any stored information that can be used to identify a customer will have to be stored in a safe manner and only used if given consent, for example, name, bank details, photo images, email addresses, social media interactions and medical information. For small businesses this new legislation may prove very costly. To comply with GDPR costs can include upgrades on IT software, data audits and perhaps even employing someone to organise this data. Failure to comply with the new regulations will result in huge fines for improperly stored information (up to 4% of global turnover). However if you are in compliance with current Data Legislation, you are already 2/3 of the way there.  

Mark Zuckerberg is going before the House of Representatives today.  In his prepared testimony he has admitted that he/the company didn’t do enough in terms of “hate speech, fake news, foreign interference in elections and developer policies”.  The company has admitted that the personal information of up rto 87 million users may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

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