The Merciad

Use of Facebook data questioned

Caitlyn Lear, News Editor

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Privacy has become an increasingly difficult thing to come by.

With the invention of the internet, keeping all aspects of our lives private is almost impossible.

Facebook is one of the more well known social media networks across the globe and has been in the news a lot lately because of its connections to Cambridge Analytica.

So I did a little digging to see what all the fuss was about.

To my complete unsurprise, the company, which started in 2013 as an off-shoot of the SCL Group, is connected to the Trump campaign.

Every time you think you are going to hear a story that does not involved our president, he manages to come up anyway.

Not only was the company hired by the campaign, but it is also largely funded by Robert Mercer and Stephen Bannon.

Just knowing that already made me question the company.

Cambridge Analytica, a data firm, has both commercial and political services that they offer.

The firm was hired by the Trump campaign in 2016 to find “persuadable voters, how likely they were to vote, the issues they cared about and who was most likely to donate,” a Cambridge Analytica press release said.

This type of data collection seems relatively harmless and normal. Anyone running for any sort of position is going to try and sway voters by targeting issues they care about most.

However, Cambridge Analytica is accused of illegally using data collected from 87 million people during the 2016 election. They collected the data through Global Science Research (GSR).

This company was given permission to gain certain information from Facebook, and users agreed to this collection of data, as they were told that the information was being used for research purposes.

But supposedly the company took more than was agreed upon.

There seems to be a lot going on with all the press releases and back and forth accusations.

It pretty much boils down to Facebook saying Cambridge Analytica took the data and wrongly used it.

Then, Cambridge Analytica comes back denying it, saying that when they found out about all this extra data, they deleted it.

Data in a computer is actually very hard to completely erase.

Just because Cambridge Analytica came back from an internal audit and gave Facebook certification that the information was no longer in their possession, I am not buying it.

One, why would you ever trust a company that supposedly obtained 87 million users’ data to do an internal audit?

When you are politically funded and politically motivated, I would say that having an audit done within the company is not trustworthy. I am not saying all politicians are corrupt and dirty, but during my lifetime, they have not had the best track record.

So at best, the audit done by the company should have been double checked by another source.

Two, like I said previously, “deleted” data can actually be pretty easily recovered.

So to say the data was not present and/or used in any way is a shady statement at best.

Facebook is being accused of having weak privacy settings, and to a point, I agree.

If they were allowing GSR access to some data for research, you would think there would be settings that would stop them from taking more than allowed.

On the other hand, if there was something in the terms while signing up for Facebook that stated this could happen, then one can not be totally surprised.

Nobody actually reads the fine print on documents like that.

In most cases, people are more interested in the product than reading the lengthy document.

Using a data firm that literally finds people’s weak spots and uses them to your advantage is just low.

If you know you can’t win or sell something based on its true value, then maybe something about you needs to change.

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Use of Facebook data questioned