Micro-Targeting vs Manipulation; the line between these marketing strategies is thin. Surely Facebook should know the difference?
Businesses can legally buy consented to data from Facebook, giving them an insight into demographics, which’ll then allow them to market themselves in the relevant spaces. Cambridge Analytica accessed data that was collected on 270,000 users via a personality quiz in 2014 by a Cambridge University professor. From there, they managed to harvest the information of 50 million people. The company was later hired for target advertising by the Trump campaign. This is the same political consultancy who were recently exposed for saying: “It’s no good fighting an election campaign on the facts because actually, it’s all about the emotions.”
Facebook found out about this, and requested that the data be terminated; we are not aware of any significant consequence that was acted on by Facebook for Cambridge Analytica’s behaviour.
Mark Zuckerberg released a statement following the leak of this news and days of silence. In a Facebook status, he wrote, "In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access." The data was accessed by the quiz creator in 2013, Facebook only learned of Cambridge Analytica's possession of it in 2015.
Facebook has a history of making users feel uneasy with its privacy settings or lack thereof. This theme started with them creating a complicated account deletion process way back in 2009, and has continued throughout their timeline with the platform still being able to track your movements across the web whether you’re logged in or not through their automatic access to your cookies.
Now we use Facebook too and would like to think that they are blameless, we would like to say that the actions of Cambridge Analytica.. are entirely on the company. That a bad company managed to craftily take advantage of a well-run system.
But Facebook has had nearly a decade of backlash and controversy regarding the safety of its users. And while companies such as Cambridge Analytica operate in sly ways, we struggle to believe that Facebook couldn’t have put stricter policies in place to protect its platform and the people who make it what it is.
A lot of us have been using the platform for nearly 10 years; to maintain relationships as long-term as this one takes trust, transparency and in this case, the feeling of control that users felt they had. ‘Had’ being the operative word, as Facebook’s value has dropped by about $50 million since Tuesday, a total of 7% and their biggest downfall in 4 years. Even WhatsApp co-founder joined the #deletefacebook Twitter Trend. What're you predicting for the platform moving forward?