Massive Facebooks data breach by Cambridge Analytica might have influenced Donald Trump’s election
Mark Zuckerberg, the developer and the director of the social giant Facebook, is accused of massive Facebook's data breach, which allowed Cambridge Analytica, the company hired by Donald Trump, to harvest 50 millions of Facebook profiles to initiate political campaigns.
One of the leading figures standing behind Facebooks security scandal is Aleksandr Kogan. A professor at the University of Cambridge, separately from his work at Cambridge University, developed personality prediction app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” which was supposed to collect personally non-identifiable data for academic use only.
The app has been developed in 2014 and harvested the data of 50 millions of Facebook users all the year round. In 2015, a severe infringement of Facebook's policy had been revealed. The social platform policy allowed Global Science Research (GSR), in collaboration with Cambridge Analytica, to collect the data of test-takers' friends. However, the research revealed that the privacy of the most test-takers has also been violated.
Facebook kept its mouth closed about the breach since 2015
Currently, Facebook with the Mark Zuckerberg in the front, are taking the defensive position. The Senate Judiciary Committee and other authorities are demanding for in-depth analysis of security scandal and an explanation on “what Facebook knew about misusing data from 50 million Americans to target political advertising and manipulate voters.”
The main fact that the Zuckerberg and the rest of the Facebook leading team have to defend is their silence. The social tech giant revealed the unprecedented privacy violation that affected more than 50 millions of Facebook users in the US but kept its mouth closed up until now.
Neither Zuckerberg nor any member of his team answered the seemingly simple question on why they kept the privacy violation scandal for almost three years. Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook's CEO, added that the company is initiating in-depth research to determine all the peculiarities of the scandal:
“We are conducting a comprehensive internal and external review and are working to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists. That is where our focus lies as we remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information.”
The data gathered by Cambridge Analytica might have helped Trump's consultants to influence electorate campaigns
It's a known practice of companies to purchase the voting records of the previous elections. Such information can be legally used for various purposes, including the prediction of the behavior of the potential voters.
The Cambridge Analytica data leakage is not that kind. A. Kogan developed an app that, which was supposed to collect information required for psychological researchers. Violating Facebook's privacy, Kogan not only gathered the data related, like IQ, gender, age, political views, religion, a position held, agreeableness, self-disclosure, self-monitoring, etc. but also transmitted it to C. Wylie, the founder of Cambridge Analytica who could have further be exploited to influence Donald Trump's election in 2016 by adopting political ads.
It turned out later that the Kogan's app “thisisyourdigitallife” might collect the user's friends' data. The disclosure of such data could have helped Trump's consultants to link people's preferences with approximate locations and outlined the view on how to attract the potential voters.
Facebook suspended the activities of the Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and Cambridge Analytica on the platform
In 16 of March 2018, Facebook officially banned the Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and Cambridge Analytica, with both of the leading figures, Christopher Wylie and Aleksandr Kogan, of the scandal.
Neither on behalf of the company nor as individual users, these people can access any data on the most popular social platform.
We are suspending Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), including their political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, from Facebook. Given the public prominence of this organization, we want to take a moment to explain how we came to this decision and why.
Facebook rejects accusations and disagrees with the term “data breach”
It's a fact that 50 millions of Facebook users were tricked into revealing some pieces of both personal and non-personal data. However, Facebook disagrees with the term “data breach” and rejects the accusations that are currently put on the company's shoulders. As Mr. Stamos claims:
The recent Cambridge Analytica stories by the NY Times and The Guardian are important and powerful, but it is incorrect to call this a ‘breach’ under any reasonable definition of the term.
Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook executive, also added that the term does not conform to the explanation of the origin of the “data breach.” He adds:
This was unequivocally not a data breach. No systems were infiltrated, no passwords or information were stolen or hacked.
Since the issue is currently being under investigation, it's early to judge whether the issue should be dubbed as a breach or privacy issue. But the fact that users by signing in to the service and downloading Kogan's app people expressed consent to provide access to data stored on Facebook makes us think that the issue might not officially be called a breach.