Facebook has found itself embroiled in another controversy. However, this time the social site isn’t directly linked to the issues but can be considered to have served as the basis for data hunters to get along with their job.
The villain of the entire episode happens to be Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm linked to Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL). The company is accused of having exploited the personal information of millions of Facebook users to create, what has come to be known as personality profiles of the users. This, in turn, can be used to create extremely accurate add campaigns to influence users to actually buy those stuff.
All of it started with a harmless looking app named ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ developed by one Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge. However, Kogan illegally passed on the info he gathered from users of the app to SCL and Cambridge Analytica that helped in their efforts. The app had gone on for more than 270,000 downloads, which does make for a significant treasure trove of info as usage pattern of user’s friends too were recorded.
Facebook is claiming this can’t exactly be considered a hack of its system as users of the app has voluntarily consented to it accessing their info. The social media company also assured users none of their systems have been breached and no passwords have been stolen.
However, the issue seems to run far deeper considering that the firm Data Analytica happens to be the same that assisted Donald Trump in his controversial campaign during the 2016 US presidential elections. That is not all as the firm is also believed to be responsible to have influenced the outcome of Brexit 2015 that culminated in Britain leaving the European Union in 2015.
Among other achievements of Cambridge Analytica include assisting Senator Ted Cruz with his presidential campaign. That was in 2015 though successfully influencing Trump winning the US elections in 2016 can be considered its first most significant achievement.
The firm that counts among its owners the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer said they use unconscious psychological biases to target them with the sort of ads that is likely to have the maximum impact on the viewer’s mind. To achieve that, they needed access to personal info of the users, and what better place to source that than Facebook.
However, now that the firm has ceased to be associated with Facebook, it remains to be seen what other means it adapts to get along with their doings. The firm had earlier assured they had deleted every bit of info it had though that does not seem to have been verified so far.