Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, faced a pressing privacy issue when news outlets such as The New York Times and The Guardian revealed their malicious involvement with Cambridge Analytica.
Last March 2018, Facebook was linked to an international scandal due to data breach of 87 million Facebook users. President Donald Trump hired the Cambridge Analytica, a political firm which focuses on data mining and data science, for the 2016 electoral campaign. It gained access to millions of personal information of Facebook users including their identities, locations, networks, and liked posts to influence the political views of US voters.
Aleksandr Kogan from Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Center developed a software program called this is your digital life that accumulated private user information via personality tests, mapped their personality traits based from their liked post and networks, and influenced the users with political advertisements.
As a consequence, Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, stated that Facebook would pay at most £500,000 for its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and infringement of the Data Protection Act. According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Facebook failed to protect the data of the users and refused to be transparent on the data breaches. Zuckerberg stood before politicians and legislators from the European Parliament to address misuse of user information, election interference, and privacy issues on Facebook.
What is the future of Facebook given the occurrences of user data breach and privacy issues in millions of Facebook users?
Facebook is a massive social networking site with approximately 2.23 billion active users based on Statistic. This figure, however, is its lowest quarterly increase since 2011. Its user growth in the United States and Canada has ended at 185 million users, while its growth in Europe declined from 282 million users in the first quarter to 279 million active users in the second quarter.
Their recent association in the Cambridge Analytica scandal caused their stock to decline and lose one-fifth or 20 percent of its assets. Moreover, Facebook was involved with several privacy issues since 2017 including a software bug which publicized the private posts of users without their consent, and another bug which “unblocked” people.
Although Zuckerberg acknowledged and apologized for the shortcomings of Facebook, the lawmakers believed that he is unaware of how influential his platform is. The tremendous number of a network is directly proportional to the number of users with different viewers about societal and political issues. Facebook seems to lack the accountability of social responsibilities given its extensive coverage. The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 2018, which regulates the protection of European user information, should start the change in misuse data handling. The new regulation also involved a considerable amount of penalty when a data breach occurs. Facebook should note the implementation of GDPR to prevent another data privacy issues in the future.