News Response: Facebook, Privacy, and Politics

Facebook is caught in yet another storm as a major scandal involving the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica was discovered. The firm, which is tied to the Donald Trump presidential campaign, was found to have accessed personal data from 50 million Facebook users without their awareness in an effort to influence voters. As a result, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, has been suspended, and Facebook is currently under another investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to see if it has mishandled private user data.

Facebook’s information being leaked to 3rd parties isn’t new — targeted advertising on Facebook has been happening for a while, which is why people get ads on Facebook that appear to be specifically aimed at them. Facebook has also been reported to have other issues of Internet privacy including possible indefinite records of its users’ information, automatic facial recognition software, and even employer-employee account disclosure. The news that Facebook may have had a role in influencing votes is certainly adding even more fuel to the fire.

It’s pretty disheartening to see what has become of Facebook, which started out innocently enough as a social media platform for people who sought to make connections online. Now that same platform is very turbulent due to hacking, misinformation, privacy issues, and now politics. It would be very comforting to hear that Facebook plans to improve its security, but Zuckerberg still hasn’t answered the question: What is Facebook going to do?