Come on, just one more effort and it'll all be over.
Thinking about giving in now? Too late. You cannot throw overboard all you've done this academic year. So... grit your teeth, clench your fists and carry on.
And thank you for making my life easy and my lessons so rewarding.
Facebook is under fire this week over a controversy involving tens of millions of users’ personal information.
The drama began when the $500 billion company admitted Friday that data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, which has close ties to President Trump’s election campaign and right-leaning megadonors, used data that had been collected from 50 million users without their consent. Facebook has since suspended Cambridge Analytica’s access to its platform.
What is Cambridge Analytica?
Cambridge Analytica is a political analysis firm that claims to build psychological profiles of voters to help its clients win elections. The company is accused of buying millions of Americans’ data from a researcher who told Facebook he was collecting it strictly for academic purposes. Facebook allowed Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge who owns a company called Global Science Research, to harvest data from users who downloaded his app. The problem was that Facebook users who agreed to give their information to Kogan’s app also gave up permission to harvest data on all their Facebook friends, as well, according to the Guardian.
The breach occurred when Kogan then sold this data to Cambridge Analytica, which is against Facebook’s rules.
Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who worked at Cambridge Analytica before quitting in 2014, claimed that Cambridge Analytica’s goal was to establish profiling algorithms that would “allow us to explore mental vulnerabilities of people, and then map out ways to inject information into different streams or channels of content online so that people started to see things all over the place that may or may not have been true.”
Onetime Trump campaign advisor and Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was previously vice president of Cambridge Analytica’s board, according to the New York Times. Wylie told the Guardian that Bannon was his boss at Cambridge Analytica. Bannon has been involved in propping up right-wing political groups for years, having been the executive chairman and co-founder of Breitbart News, a far right-wing digital publication, until he stepped down from the position in January.
What does Mark Zuckerberg say?
Facebook executives responded to the crisis on Wednesday by issuing statements on the social media platform.
Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook made mistakes and acknowledged that his company failed to responsibly protect the data of customers.
He gave a timeline explaining how the improper data harvesting occurred, and said that in 2014 the company changed its practices to limit the ability of “abusive apps” to collect data from users and their other Facebook friends who did not give consent.
“In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social…To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them….In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.”
Zuckerberg also acknowledged that journalists informed Facebook as early as 2015 that Kogan shared this data with Cambridge Analytica, and said the company subsequently banned Kogan’s apps from the social network because they violated Facebook policies.
“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that,” he wrote on Facebook.