By SOPHIA CONSTANTINO
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has found himself under immense pressure to address the safety of Facebook users after The New York Times and The Guardian published an investigation into Cambridge Analytica’s supposed breach of privacy against millions of unknowing Facebook users in 2013.
According to The New York Times, voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica, which engaged in work for the Donald Trump campaign, bought the data of millions of Facebook users under the pretext of “collecting it (data) for academic purposes,” while in reality the company used the information to tailor individual content, with the intent of influencing 2014 midterm elections.
Despite the clear breach of user privacy and unethical use of information, the controversy remains heated in that, technically, Cambridge Analytica was not, in fact, a breach of any Facebook privacy policies at all. It was intentionally deceiving, but its actions were within Facebook’s privacy rules.
Facebook gave permission to University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan to access information of users who downloaded his app “thisisyourdigitallife.” Kogan then turned the information over to Cambridge Analytica, which used this information to allegedly tamper with midterm elections.
Former contractor for Cambridge Anayltica Christopher Wylie exposed the company to The New York Times and The Guardian.
The scandal has raised great concern over Facebook’s seeming lack of privacy regulation and account for user safety, as it is unclear whether Cambridge Analytica’s actions technically broke Facebook’s privacy policies or simply duped the company within its own allowances.
The news media, therefore, has turned to public figure and founder Mark Zuckerberg to respond. Though it is not uncommon for major CEOs to remain behind the scenes in such incidences, Mark Zuckerberg’s public presence and personal branding demands a response from him directly.
Five days following the exposure, Zuckerberg has finally issued a response via Facebook, claiming that user security is of the utmost importance, stating “…if we can’t (protect your data), then we don’t deserve to serve you.”
The statement has been met with mixed responses, most focusing on his line, “The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago.”
The line contradicts itself; if the steps were taken years ago as he claims, the whole incident would not have occurred in the first place. Supposedly, Facebook began refining its policies in 2014, which would have been just after the incident occurred.
As the speculation into Zuckerberg’s claims continues, the media questions how much the company knew about the information leak, when they knew it and how safe the trailblazing social media platform really is.