People are pledging to end their accounts on Facebook after it was revealed that an analytics company had improperly used their personal information to help Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016.
It was discovered last week that United Kingdom-based Cambridge Analytica, a data firm company, reportedly obtained information from 50 million Facebook users from 2014 to 2015 without their permission through a personality test app on the site called “Thisisyourdigitallife.” Only a small fraction of that number (270,000 users) had actually granted the app permission to have access to their information.
The data was then transferred from the app to Cambridge Analytica, who reportedly used the information to create psychographic profiles. Obtaining information about users isn’t against the rules, but third-party apps cannot transfer or sell that information externally to other groups or organizations, which is exactly what the app did for Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge Analytica was contracted by the Trump campaign in 2016, and the information obtained by the data firm was used to help plan out techniques and strategy for the candidate.
For its own part, Facebook discovered the breach in 2015 and took some steps to step up security measures for those 50 million users. But it didn't take action against Cambridge Analytica until last week, nor did it inform users who had their data collected of what had happened.
In response to the breach of their information, several Facebook users denounced the social media site, pledging on Twitter they had or were deleting their account (and urging others to do so) using the hashtag #DeleteFacebook.
Finally deleted my @facebook account. If you're angry about what facebook has done with our data then just #deletefacebook We all moved on from MySpace we can move on from facebook too. Remember we aren't the customers we are the product #CambridgeAnalytica— Eric (@ecarpen) March 17, 2018
“The firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission.”— David Chartier ?? (@chartier) March 17, 2018
Facebook knew about it in 2015. Didn’t do anything until now due to public pressure.
You can and arguably should #DeleteFacebook
It's understandable why so many people are angry with Facebook. The company failed to protect its users from data harvesting that was used in an inappropriate way. What's more, the company didn't punish the data firm, or even alert users to the abuses, immediately after they had happened.
Ultimately, the decision to delete your Facebook account (or not) is up to you — but many people are making the conscious choice to send a very strong message to the social media behemoth.
Allowing third-party vendors to access (and distribute) personal information of its users violates a trust that account holders had when they signed up with the site. And if Facebook won’t do anything to remedy the problem, then users won’t log in to the site, which will end up costing the company in the end.
Facebook relies on users to sell ads to. If the number of users drops, then Facebook will lose revenues. It’s an effective way, similar to a boycott, to encourage the company to do the right thing — and to do better by its users in the future as well.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Thomas White/Reuters