Where is all the data going? Did Zuckerberg have any answer or did he just apologize for a ‘breach of trust’? What did he feel exactly sorry for – data extortion or not being a Russian steward? The largest social networking site in the world is now under the civic radar of US and UK, followed by the allegations made by a tattler agency. Reportedly, it was found that a UK-based consultancy firm, Cambridge Analytica was illegitimately accessing private information of 50 million users to build profiles on American voters that were used for the presidential election in 2016.
The published apology in a leading British daily, signed by the CEO of FB Mark Zuckerberg said: “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.” It shudders the web world on how the owner of the largest social community is incapable of testifying to his own product. Having labeled as “data privacy scandal”, this incident witnessed a voluminous account closure overnight. But, did it manage to create a dent in the humongous following of FB?
In a statement Mark claimed that it’s an app, developed by a university researcher that is the devil of all roots and exposing personal data of millions from facebook. He also finger pointed to Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University researcher for potential breach of FB data rules. Are you kidding Mark? Do you want us to believe that the largest social media platform owns a feeble data protection service which could even be curved by any random crackerjack? After this revelation was made, the share price didn’t take much time to take a huge slump by more than $50 million.
So, what would be some of the potential changes that Mark is should have introduced in order to shield your personal information over FB?
• Ensure that companies like Cambridge Analytica do not get easy access to personal user information without first understanding the purpose for which the information will be used.
• If in case Facebook does want to share the personal information to maybe some third party apps, they should have asked users to give them permission to do so and also to give them a really strong and valid reason why they wish to share their information in the first place.
• Steps should be taken to strictly avoid divulging their users views on delicate topics related to politics or a person’s ethnic views for instance.
• Give users easy and clear access to their privacy controls so that they are able to select or choose what activity Facebook can track while they are using the platform and what they cannot track.
• In the scandal, it was uncovered that Aleksandr Kogan was able to obtain millions of users personal information as the app ‘This Is Your Digital Life’, which he created was able to access the users’ data and that of their friends and followers as well. To ensure this does not happen again, Facebook must avoid allowing third-party apps gain access to the personal data and contacts of their users.
• While working or partnering with other apps, Facebook must set clear terms with them to ensure that they do not get permission to access the private data of their users or any of the people from their friend’s lists.
• They must also be more responsive and attentive when it comes to addressing user concerns about privacy and questions about certain apps that ask to access their data, on the forum or through email communications.
• Develop a better software or algorithm that quickly detects fake Facebook users or accounts that are trying to manipulate people to share their personal information with them or to download any app.
• Avoid trying to make regular Facebook users download or use more products developed by the platform or by other their partners by sending users annoying updates or notifications asking them to download or try their newly-launched software/app, like how they used to do for their Messenger service for instance.
• Since there are a lot of real Facebook users who try to gather the personal data for other users for whatever reason by spreading fake news and posts, the platform should design a method that filters these types of users so as to prevent them from trying to collect private information or ban their accounts entirely.
According to a survey, among all the existing consumer tech brands like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, etc., Facebook was one company that users trusted the least. After the scandal took place, many individual users as well as businesses may have had some serious doubts and concerns about using the platform and rightly so.
Users might now be wondering whether Facebook really cared about the memories, interests, ideas and experiences, which they had willingly shared on their feed or with their other Facebook friends, or whether they were just gathering all this information and then selling it to various other companies or research firms who would then use this information to develop customer profiles for businesses to target.
Scandals like this could tarnish the reputation of a company and it will take more than a sincere apology from the CEO to win back the trust of users. The deletion of various Facebook accounts by users and businesses was but a natural human reaction due to Facebook’s obvious betrayal of trust. People want to feel safe and secure. They would not want anything to do with a company or even a person for that matter, who makes them feel that their private information is not safe in their hands.
The violation of trust by Facebook is really sad as it used to be one of the coolest and most loved social media platforms that people used in order to stay in touch with friends over long distances, share photos with family members or reconnect with a loved one. It lost its charm when they decided to make it more about business. The scandal is proof that big social brands like Facebook are only concerned about their revenue generation at the end of the day and are even willing to compromise their users’ privacy just to increase their profits.
Uninstalling the app from their smartphones who have been completely absurd for some users a couple of months back. However, in light of the scandal millions of users have not only deleted the app but have also clicked the option on Facebook they never thought they would have chosen – ‘Deactivate your account’.
If you are still not sure whether your information was shared with Cambridge Analytica, then you can find out by logging into your Facebook account (if you haven’t already deactivated it yet) and then click here. You can also have a look the changes that Facebook has implemented in an attempt to rectify their error, by clicking here.
What is your opinion on the recent Facebook scandal?
Do you feel that Mark Zuckerberg has done all he can to make up for this incident and that users should give the platform another chance? Or is it time to close the book on Facebook? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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