In case you haven’t heard there is a huge storm brewing over at Facebook. It involves a firm by the name of Cambridge Analytica, their data mining, algorithms, and how they targeted consumers. This post is intended to be apolitical so you won’t be reading any conspiracy theories or supposition here. The story is really about Facebook, other social media and how they protect the data they store.
Social media store, collect and package data and sell it to those companies willing to pay a fee. What these companies do with the data runs the gamut from good to questionable at best. This case takes it to the next level – how the data from over 50,000,000 facebook users was obtained. To quote Alexis Madrigal from The Atlantic–
To gather that data, the Times reports, Kogan hired workers through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to install a Facebook app in their accounts. The app, built by Global Science Research, requested an unusual (but not unheard-of) amount of data about users themselves and their friends. That’s how 270,000 Turkers ended up yielding 30 million profiles of American Facebook users that could be matched with other data sets.