Why Facebook deserves to be deleted over Cambridge Analytica scandal

A campaign has begun to punish the Mark Zuckerberg-owned social media platform for its role in a massive data breach.

 |  6-minute read |   21-03-2018
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In this age, social media can act as judge, jury and executioner. And if the one facing trial happens to be none other than the biggest social media platform in the world, the consequences can be disastrous. Case in point, the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal which has already set the Mark Zuckerberg-owned platform back by almost $50 billion in market cap. 

But things only seem to be going from bad to worse for Facebook. This plunge in valuation could become steeper if the #DeleteFacebook campaign trending on its rival platform, Twitter, comes to fruition. Many have already joined the campaign and are flooding the Twitterverse with calls for boycotting Facebook.

However, among this sea of tweets, one that stands out – and for obvious reasons – is by high-profile tech industry billionaire, Brian Acton, who also happens to be the co-founder of messaging platform WhatsApp, bought by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014. 

With the tweet, Acton has added momentum to the campaign #DeleteFacebook, which has surfaced this week after an exposé revealed that the data of 50 million users from the social media platform had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica. This data was later used to help influence voters in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential elections.

But even as Acton and others called for deleting Facebook, there were others who took it upon themselves to raise deeper and sometimes rather obvious concerns of the fallout of a successful #DeleteFacebook campaign. 

Why did the campaign start?

At this point, it is important to ask why exactly the campaign began. The simple answer to it is because of Facebook's dishonesty. Over the past week, questions have been raised over its alleged role in influencing the 2016 US presidential elections, changing public opinion at the time of UK's Brexit referendum and even helping Nitish Kumar's JD(U) achieve a landslide victory in the 2010 Bihar Assembly polls.

Allegations are that the social media giant, let slip from right under its nose personal data of 50 million of its users to voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica. Arguably the biggest data breach of its kind, Facebook, till now, has only tried to shrug off responsibility by playing the leak s a case of breach of trust by one of its partner developers. 

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Facebook's dishonesty

However, the reality is that for all that Facebook may say, as the self-appointed guardian of the vast amount of personal data it collects from its users, it is ultimately Facebook's duty to not only protect but also inform users that their personal data has fallen into the hands of an unauthorised party. 

As an NYT report exposes, the social media giant was made aware of the leak as far back as 2015. However, at the time, it chose not to acknowledge the breach publicly or take any legal action against Cambridge Analytica for buying and using data that it should not have been allowed access to in the first place.

Instead of making the voter profiling firm pay on behalf of 50 million wronged users, it shockingly approached Cambridge Analytica through its lawyers to secure the data – efforts for which continued as recently as August 2016. After getting assurances that the data in question would be deleted – copies of it still remain with Cambridge Analytica – Facebook allowed the firm to continue using its platform to manipulate individuals using the stolen personal data.

This is undoubtedly Facebook's biggest betrayal. An offence users should punish by deleting their accounts on the platform and taking away the biggest resource Facebook enjoys– data. 

Writer

Sushant Talwar Sushant Talwar @sushanttalwar

Tech journalist, DailyO

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