Facebook Data Collection


Taylor Tames

Logging into this social media platform may compromise your privacy.

Gavin Kuncl, Writer

Lately, Facebook and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg have come under fire for the scandal of gathering of data from countless users, without those users being aware.

Cambridge Analytica, a firm that has advised Republican candidates, gathered data from Facebook users without their consent. On Wednesday, April 4, Facebook said that up to 87 million users could have been compromised. Response and mockery to the uncovering of the event has been swift and fierce. The Missouri Attorney General, Josh Hawley, has opened a probe into Facebook’s data usage. The probe has the purpose of finding every time Facebook has shared data of users with political campaigns and or a political action committee by the deadline of May 29.

Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized Facebook for abusing and profiting off of user data. “We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers. If our customers were our product,” Cook said. “We’ve elected not to do that.” Cook also said that he would never be in the situation that Zuckerberg is in and insinuated that Facebook does not care about users. Snapchat took to mocking Facebook by creating a filter with a blue user interface, similar to the interface Facebook uses, with Russian bots liking posts. Zuckerberg responded to Cook’s critique, stating that the comments were “extremely glib.”

Zuckerberg put out a public apology, taking out full-page ads in multiple newspapers. “I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time,” he wrote. “I promise to do better for you.” The apology did not stop criticism or the calls for tighter regulation of Facebook and other social media companies. Zuckerberg started testifying before Congress on Tuesday, April 10, with more rounds of questioning coming. The Senators talking to Zuckerberg burned him alive with questioning.  In response to the apology Zuckerberg put out, “We’ve seen the apology tours before,” said Sen Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. “After more than a decade of promises to do better, how is today’s apology different?” said Sen. John Thune, R- South Dakota. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana straight up insulted Zuckerberg and Facebook. “Here’s what everybody has been trying to tell you today, and I will say this gently: Your user agreement sucks,” Kennedy said, “The purpose of that user agreement is to cover Facebook’s rear end. It’s not to inform your users about their rights.”

The European Union (EU), is readying a sweeping new online privacy law. On May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will massively change what companies can do with the data they gather from users. The law, once in effect, gives users more control, the ability to learn what info companies have on them and the ability for customers to order web services to delete their data or stop distributing it to third-party companies.

Aleksandr Kogan, the professor that harvested information from tens of millions of Facebook users for Cambridge Analytica, spoke about the event. “At the time we didn’t think we were doing anything wrong,” Kogan said. He called the data mining a “normal business practice.” In an interview, he claimed that Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress was misleading. “I think they’re being a little misleading,” Kogan told ABC’s chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, “The idea that this was a hack is flat-out wrong.” He continued, “Imagine a warehouse: we didn’t break in — we went on Amazon and ordered the data, and they delivered it to us. This is a key feature of their system.” British Parliament has set sights on Kogan, preparing to have him testify.

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