May 24, 2022

Facebook Under Fire

Seen the #deletefacebook campaign and wondered what it is all about? It has come to light that the tech giant released millions of user’s personal data to a company called Cambridge Analytic. In reaction to this news, many people around the world jumped on the hashtag vowing to delete their personal account.

According to Wikipedia scandal involved the collection of personally identifiable information of up to 87 million users that Cambridge Analytica began collecting in 2014. The data was used to influence voter opinion on behalf of politicians who hire them in the most recent US presidential elections.

Facebook has recently apologised and experienced public outcry resulting lowered stock prices. Facebook has called the way that Cambridge Analytica collected the data “inappropriate”.

The ability of political operatives and companies to influence Facebook users with personal information that has been released without their knowledge is causing global alarm.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was summoned before the US Congress this week. The recent issues around fake news, foreign interference in elections as well as hate speech, has politicians concerned about the global giant’s influence and reach into our personal lives.

This type of scrutiny is a first for the social media platform’s founder. The power and influence that Facebook has over its users by controlling what they see in their newsfeed. According to the ABC, a study has shown that a computer knows more about a person’s personality than their friends or flatmates from an analysis of 70 “likes”, and more than their family from 150 likes. From 300 likes it can outperform a spouse.

Now add to that issues around the spreading of fake news, foreign interference in elections as well as hate speech, Zuckerberg’s appearance before the US Congress is coming not a moment too soon.

In a world where data is a commodity more governmental regulation seems to be inevitable. There is a saying in the world of tech that if you aren’t paying, you are the product. In other words, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There is always an exchange, and in this case, it is an individual’s browsing history, personal information and preferences.

It will be interesting to see how the hearings before Congress will influence the future of Facebook and the privacy of its 2.2 billion users around the world.


Julie Dunmore

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