Whats the scandal about?

There is a mega scandal being unfolded about the analytics firm “Cambridge Analytica” and how they misused data and used psychological manipulation with over 50 Million Facebook accounts. At the heart of this is if Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten data to influence the outcome of the US 2016 presidential election or the UK Brexit referendum. The scandal unfolded when a former employee Chris Wylie blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica.

How was the data compromised ?

Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher at Cambridge University, collected a dataset of millions of Facebook users four years ago using a personality quiz app. Kogan later passed this information on to voter-profiling firm Cambridge Analytica, which claimed (but now denies) that it used the data to craft political ads for President Trump’s 2016 election. However facebook claims that Kogan violated its policies when he used the data for commercial purposes.

Was this a technical compromise of the facebook platform?

No, it’s not a technical glitch. The data was gathered using facebook’s infrastructure at that time, and many other developers had taken advantage of it – but the data was not authorised for them to share with others. So it’s more a moral glitch and policy violation.

Why is this a huge scandal?

This is even a bigger story because Cambridge Analytica’s was also involved in the 2016 US election, where it served as the data operations team for the Trump campaign. And is currently subjected to parallel investigations. The facebook data misuse news and a separate Channel 4 investigative report coincided last week. The Undercover Channel 4 investigation reveals how Cambridge Analytica secretly campaigns in elections across the world. Bosses were filmed talking about using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs and sex workers.

What was the response from facebook?

The misuse of data started a whirlwind of demands towards facebook. US senators called on Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress about how Facebook will protect users. Damian Collins, the chairman of a parliament committee in the UK has has summoned Mr Zuckerberg to explain the catastrophic failure to members of parliament. The head of the European parliament raised serious concern. However we didn’t see any response from the facebook camp over a few days and the silence was creating havoc on the news platforms.

Official Statement from facebook

Finally Mark Zuckerberg broke the silence and stated that facebook will change how it shares data with third-party apps and admitted that ‘they made mistakes’.

How can you protect your data on facebook?

There are a few things to do on facebook that secures your data to a great extent.

APP Permissions : Be very careful with apps. specially those that ask you to log in with facebook. They usually get a variety of permissions and many are designed to pick your data.

Facebook Security Settings: look through your facebook security settings to ensure you haven’t given unnecessary permissions to apps.

Download the Data facebook has of you : you can download a copy of the data facebook has of you, it may not be very comprehensive but it gives you a fair idea. The download option is at the bottom of the general accounts settings tab.

Should you consider leaving facebook?

My honest opinion is No, There are so many different platforms that may have even more data of you than you can imagine. Many apps on your phone will have permission to access location data, your entire phone book and so on. you maybe using multiple social media, email platforms.