By Tomer Mashiah
In the last few weeks we have seen Facebook shares plummet. This is due to a loophole in 3rd party agreements, a breach of trust and irrational users, like you and me. Cambridge Analytica is a British Political Consulting Firm who successfully extracted 50 million profiles from Facebook to utilize in their campaign, effectively reaching their audience whilst simultaneously creating a new one. Once Cambridge Analytica procured this information, a group of analysts would synthesize all data, facts, interests, likes, dislikes and everything about the person to create a predictable profile, essentially allowing the firm to make assumptions on voter behavior.
By using software which allows ad agencies to come up with conclusions on their targets, Cambridge Analytica was able merge that information in the political spectrum and have the largest market share of coverage, discussion and support.
They were able to do so because of this loophole: every time a person downloaded an application, like Instagram, they would receive a notification requesting the application to have access to information, contacts, gallery, location, etc. What this means is that Facebook enables your data to be transferred to 3rd party applications. This was allowed. So why the uproar at Cambridge A?
“CA was able to procure this data in the first place thanks to a loophole in Facebook’s API that allowed third-party developers to collect data not only from users of their apps but from all of the people in those users’ friends network on Facebook. This access came with the stipulation that such data couldn’t be marketed or sold — a rule CA promptly violated,” as per Vox.
In 2015, when Facebook fully grasped what was going on they sought a legal certificate from CA, demanding that they destroy all of the information they wrongfully extracted. Upon receipt of submission, Facebook believed them and didn’t bother following up to see if the information had been destroyed. And they were wrong.
“Cambridge Analytica executives said in 2018 that the company had worked in more than 200 elections around the world, including in Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India, and Argentina,” as per Daily Nation.
That’s not all, there are reports that the company also worked throughout the 2016 American elections and Brexit. The severity of the problem does not come from privacy, most of the information to be found was easily accessible for any individual. Three clicks on two websites would have done the trick. So, what’s the problem here?
The problem here is that people are too quick to give out their information. Companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are too eager to use this information for their own benefit, regardless of the outcome. We have no idea how our information is being used against us, only the future will tell us how much damage has been done to our name, our reputation and our right to privacy. When privacy is lost we are rendered defenseless.