Facebook Under Fire

lani panico

04/17/2018

Behind the backlash against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

As of March 2018, the public is increasingly on edge about the security of Facebook and the actions of its leader, Mark Zuckerberg (CEO). Due to information gathered from reporters at The New York Times, The Observer of London, and The Guardian, millions of Facebook users discovered the news that their private information was stolen by Cambridge Analytica.

Over 87 million people were affected by the breach, causing an uproar throughout the world. The backlash was especially scathing because, as these frustrated users soon found out, this breach occurred in 2014 and the Facebook team made no effort to inform the public about the incident. It wasn’t until March, when The New York Times posted an article, that it was addressed by the administration.

In an attempt to pick up the pieces, Facebook has made it an option for users to find out if their information was stolen. The last-ditch effort didn’t seem to do much justice for Zuckerberg, which became evident during his meeting with senators about the issue on April 10th.

One of the biggest questions out there right now is “Am I safe?” or “How does this affect me?”. To give you a clearer look at what the world is dealing with during this scandal and what we can expect next, here’s some chronological information along with extra anecdotes and details regarding the incident.

A Little Bit of Background

The controversy ultimately began when Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, collected the data from an app on Facebook. The app, called “thisisyourdigitallife,” offered a personality test to users. Facebook users who downloaded the app permitted it to collect data on their location, friends, and what they “liked.” However, that information, along with other data like personal messages on Facebook Messenger, was then put into the wrong hands.

Kogan released all of the data from the app to Cambridge Analytica, a London-based voter analytics group. The firm was later hired to work on Trump’s Presidential campaign in 2016, which led many to believe that their information was used to fuel the campaign and advertisements.

Public Issue, Private Information

Fast forward to 2018 after The New York Times released an article about the breach, and the public was fuming with grief. They were especially dismayed at the fact that Facebook knew about this breach since it occurred, but did nothing to stop something like this from happening again. In response to having this information stolen, the action Facebook took was to simply block Cambridge Analytica and Kogan from using Facebook again.

Facebook didn’t tell the public about the breach, keeping it all under wraps for three years. For three full years, Facebook users were sharing all of their personal information without even knowing it.

In response to this, Facebook’s stock price has gone down 14 percent, and millions of users have deleted their accounts. Some of these users include highly recognized public figures, like Apple CEO Tim Cook. People took to Twitter protesting the social network, while organizations such as Apple shamed Facebook by saying their company would never let an issue like this occur.

Trying to Pick Up the Pieces

In the midst of trying to save his company and his name, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg promised the public that Facebook would release a tool on April 9th to show users whether or not their information was in the hands of Cambridge Analytica.

The tool showed people a link at the top of their News Feed so they can see what apps they use and what information they share with said apps. They can also use it to delete apps they no longer want. And ultimately, the tool allowed users to see if their information was shared with Cambridge Analytica or any similar organizations.

Upon releasing this tool, Zuckerberg admitted that a change needs to be made within the company. However, that didn’t calm anyone’s spirits. At this time, he was waiting to testify before Congress and give answers that everyone has been looking for, such as how much Facebook knew about the breach and when they found out this information.

The Future of Facebook

And this takes us up to the trial on April 10th: when everyone was looking for answers. Overall, the search for information proved to be rather unsuccessful, with many questions being dodged, avoided, or misunderstood. The trial did not contain much clarity, which resulted in many people still being confused about why and how Facebook decided not to share this information with the public once they found out about it.

Many individuals are still trying to fight back against Facebook by deleting their accounts to prevent anything similar from happening. However, in a world that runs on Facebook, it can be hard to function without a page.

This is especially true for businesses, who rely on social media outlets such as Facebook to generate leads and display ads. Facebook is their main way to broadcast their brand to the public, so many companies can’t risk not having it.

From a company standpoint, the best way to keep information safe in the midst of this breach is to prevent using too many outside apps, ensuring customers that their information is safe with you, and keeping an eye on how all data is used.

The future of Facebook is still relatively unclear at this point. However, with careful consideration of data that is shared, companies and individuals can continue to use the site and make efforts to keep their information where it should be: with them.

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