The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Scandal: What You Need to Know
What’s going on with Facebook, and who is Cambridge Analytica?
You know Facebook – that blue F, used by over 2 billion people around the world. That brilliant company, turning your data into $40 billion in ad revenue last year.
You’ve probably also heard of Cambridge Analytica, a British analytics and consulting firm who mines data in order to drive political strategies – most recently, known for their questionable work on the 2016 presidential election.
According to many sources, the firm leveraged Facebook data, previously approved for academic research, for commercial purposes. They leveraged data at an individual level to serve people potentially manipulative content that has been said to have impacted the 2016 election.
They misused data from 50 million people, without Facebook’s knowledge.
What is Facebook doing about this?
Facebook has taken many steps over the years to beef up their security and prevent this from happening. However, the data in question was acquired by Cambridge many years ago.
Here are the latest steps Facebook is taking in response to this:
- They’re notifying people whose data had been misused. This is important, as they are under scrutiny for not coming forward as soon as they should have.
- They’re restricting the level of access that third party developers have. Facebook will only provide a name, photo, and email, unless the developer gains approval and signs a contract for more data. Furthermore, they will remove access to that data if the user is inactive for 3 months.
- They’re investigating every 3rd party app that leverages their platform in order to seek out other Cambridge Analyticas, and will conduct a full forensic audit if they find anything fishy.
- They’re doubling the size of their security team to 20k strong.
- More awareness for consumers: Tool at top of news feed to see which apps can access your data
Is Facebook to Blame?
Mark Zuckerburg has built a very powerful tool, and we believe his intentions are pure. Should Facebook have gotten ahead of the scandal, and been more transparent about what had transpired? Yes. Is it their responsibility to protect data? Yes.
However, they’re paving a new path for technology. As a society, these are new issues that have yet to be dealt with and resolved.
We stand behind Facebook and believe they have good intentions.
What do small businesses or marketers need to know?
There are a few key reminders for small businesses and marketers:
- Security is never a problem that can be solved, as Facebook learned the hard way. You keep getting better, and your enemies do the same. It’s important to be proactive.
- Be smart about what you’re putting online. None of this data would have been available to Cambridge Analytica, or anyone else for that matter, if people hadn’t put it on the internet to begin with.
- Facebook isn’t going anywhere. The #deletefacebook movement will be short-lived, as people are quickly realizing how deeply intertwined Facebook is. The Facebook business model still works, and should be leveraged to its fullest extent.
- Micro-targeting and Facebook advertising is completely legal and ethical. Don’t be afraid of this, but be sure you consult with professionals if you are hesitant.
- Ad prices may increase, but we’ve known that was coming for a while. Continue to leverage low cost-per-click ad prices while you still can.