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How Facebook’s Data Breach Can Affect Your Business

In Uncategorized by Misha IqbalLeave a Comment

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how-facebooks-data-breach-can-affect-your-business-tech-criticWe’ve recently learned Facebook may not be as safe of a place to spend hours out of your day scrolling after-all. Just last weekend, news broke that Cambridge Analytica (CA), a large data analytics firm, had pulled data from more than 50 million Facebook user accounts. The firm is the same one that worked on Donald Trump’s campaign election and the news has not been received well. There are still some wishy-washy details surrounding CA’s data research and what they were being tasked to do with the data collected from Facebook users, however, we do know the data breach wasn’t a hack.

The number of data breaches we see today has perhaps made many of us numb to the next “big one”, but this Facebook story is perhaps more disconcerting than others. During Trump’s presidential run in 2016, there were a series of Facebook Russia ads that were intended to influence the election. Concerns were raised when it was discovered that CA used data from 50 million Facebook user accounts and used to help Trump’s campaign. While Facebook has since issued a series of apologies and the social media giant’s stock took a plunge, the damage has been done. As a business owner, it’s important to pay attention to data breaches at all times, including when they involve seemingly harmless social media platforms.

What We Know

Cambridge Analytica was tasked with harvesting personal profile data from millions of Facebook users between 2013 and 2015 – without asking for permission. They then used this data to build a targeted ad campaign based on the likes and dislikes of these users. Created by influential right-wing investors, CA used a personality profiling methodology and started offering it to various political campaigns. How did they get the data? The company found a way around Facebook’s API, giving third-party developers the green light to collect data from users as well as their network of friends. According to Facebook’s privacy policy, this data could be procured as long as it wasn’t marketed or sold – which was something CA violated almost immediately.

Unfortunately, Facebook knew about the breach and the tactics being used by CA, yet chose to do nothing about it until 2015 when they changed their API to block access to the kind of data the company was extracting. Fast forward to 2016 when it was discovered that CA had “profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America – 220 million people.” Today Facebook is taking action against CA, demanding they destroy all data linked to their research.

What Have We Learned?

 It has long been a practice of companies to use our personal information in order to enrich themselves and launch more targeted campaigns, but the recent Facebook data breach has shown us that this needs to be regulated. There are numerous reasons why this breach is problematic, starting with the fact that the information used in the Russia ads was harvested by a researcher who took information from users that had no idea any survey was being conducted. This is in violation of Facebook’s term of services, and to this date, we are unsure if the data still exists or was destroyed. Facebook has 2.1 billion active users, more than 1.4 billion of whom use the site every single day. People use Facebook differently, from simply sharing photos and status updates to connecting and reviewing businesses. Big data is crucial to our work today, and it has been instrumental in helping businesses tailor their services to our desires. However, companies are able to use our personal information and even make money off of it, unbeknownst to us.

In light of this recent breach, we expect some federal laws to come into play that will offer added protection for users. The fact that CA was able to go in and extract data from 50 million users without their knowledge is a serious problem that could impact your business in many different ways. To learn more about why you should be concerned about the Facebook data breach, please contact Tech-Critic. Our Dallas digital marketing team makes it a point to stay on top of the latest news and learn how it will impact you. If you have any questions or concerns, please schedule an appointment with us today.

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