#DeleteFacebook is trending on Twitter after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica harvested 50 Million Facebook Profiles to help Donald Trump in his Presidency Campaign.
Facebook faces an existential crisis where it lost $25 Billion market value that makes a roughly 5% of the company’s stock. Facebook is now involved in amid growing controversy where Facebook was used to collect information on American users and changing their voting habits.
#DeleteFacebook Movement that has gained so much strength:
— Melanie Miller (@melmiller75) March 18, 2018
— ɢ.ᴊ.ʟ.ᴍᴀᴄᴋᴀʏ🎵🎨✒️ (@Saphfire_Prince) March 20, 2018
One journalist summed up right
#Deletefacebook if you wish, but please don’t pretend this is a solution to surveillance capitalism.
What we need is a total restructuring of the data economy, not opening up a market for the next Facebook – which, btw, will be as bad, without changing the rules of the game.
— Fabio Chiusi (@fabiochiusi) March 19, 2018
It was ironic how people blamed Facebook in collecting a users’ data on a platform that collects data of their own.
— 🌐Albino Peach (@Albino_Peach) March 20, 2018
What is Cambridge Analytica?
Cambridge Analytica is a data mining and data analysis organization that offer its services to businesses and political parties for the need of changing audience behavior.
The company is an expert in analyzing huge amounts of data and converge it with behavioral science and targets audiences’ behavior and perceptions. It would collect data from its own polls and many different social media platforms including Facebook.
Cambridge is founded by Alexander Nix and Robert Mercer (wealthy Republican donor) in the year 2013. Stephen K. Bannon soon became the board member of the organization and funded the company rigorously. When Donald Trump became the President of the US, Bannon served as White House Chief Strategist for the first 7 months of Trump’s tenure.
Alexander Nix, in an interview to the website Contagious he addressed that the Republicans had a vacuum that needed to be fulfilled when it came to digital engagement with its voters. Republicans were all behind Democrats in that arrangement which saw a defeat of Mitt Romney in 2012 Presidential elections.
Who Collected the Data and How?
The data was harvested with the collaboration of Cambridge Analytica and Cambridge University’s Psychology Professor Aleksandr Kogan.
The University took no part in the campaign, but Professor Kogan was interested. He developed his own app in June 2014 and began harvesting the data for Cambridge Analytica.
Kogan developed a personality quiz with his app on the website. Facebook permit companies to develop applications for entertainment purposes to engage a larger audience. These apps can be in the form of Puzzle games or quizzes.
He ultimate collected data from 50 Million Facebook profiles in which only 270,000 users were under the impression that the data would be used for academic research, and therefore showed consent.
The Whistleblower: Christopher Wylie
Thanks to Christopher Wylie, a data scientist who worked for Cambridge Analytica at that time revealed how the firm gathered 50 Million American Facebook users’ data without their consent.
With an immense knowledge as a data scientist, Wylie used his experience and the personal information of US users and targeted personalized political ads to change audience perspective on Presidential Elections.
In an interview, Wylie told The Guardian that it was something that he regrets the most. Playing with the psychology of the entire country without their consent, is something which is grossly unethical.
What is Facebook’s Response?
For the record, Facebook has banned profiles of Aleksander Kogan (Cambridge Professor) and Christopher Wylie (The Whistleblower), while they have suspended Cambridge Analytica. It further hired Digital Forensic Firms to determine how accurate these claims are.
Facebook has also insisted that whatever Cambridge Analytica did was not a data breach. Every now and then, Facebook allows researchers to access users’ data only for academic purposes. Facebook users however, consent to this access whenever they create a Facebook account.
However, Facebook strictly prohibits researchers to sold or transfer this data for advertisement and monetization purposes. Facebook claims that Professor Kogan provided the information to the political consulting firm, which was never authorized.
Cambridge Analytica denies obtaining or using Facebook data, and says that it never violated Facebook terms and agreement.
Facebook issued a statement that confirms that Kogan transferred the data to Cambridge Analytica in 2015. As a result, Facebook had to remove Kogan’s app and demanded a certification that the data was destroyed. But the data remained intact and wasn’t destroyed and Facebook came to know about it just days ago.
How to Delete your Facebook Account
Step 1: Open your Facebook Account
Step 2: On the top right corner, select a down arrow-shaped icon > Then select Settings
Step 3: Go to Manage Accounts
Step 4: Press Request Account Deletion > You’re finally the part of #DeleteFacebook Movement.
The Wrap Up
There are tons of questions that needs to be answered by Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. We all await the statement from Aleksandr Nix and the Cambridge Professor in that matter. While all the US citizens wondering what role Cambridge Analytical played in Presidential Elections, the Electoral Commission in the UK is investigating the role of the firm in EU referendum. In the midst, #DeleteFacebook movement takes a toll.