Facebook – Faceplant!


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.

So far Facebook is claiming they weren’t hacked. This much is true. There was no breach of their security. The names were gathered from folks who clicked that they agreed to the Terms of Use on an app and therein lies the rub. The Terms of Use granted a third party to access the names AND DATA of users AND their friends. This is the dilemma. Who actually reads the Terms of Use especially when they are on a mobile phone? But more so the use of the data can boomerang and leave Facebook with mud on their face. Here again, they claim it wasn’t their fault. This doesn’t hold water with me. If your landlord lets them-self into your apartment with a master key did they break in? Technically no, but they should have announced they were coming in. Facebook owes it to their users to ensure their data will not be used in a questionable manner. So the question now becomes, what recourse do consumers have when their data is shared in such a manner – sounds like the courts will decide….



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