Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: What we know so far
What started with a Friday news dump has morphed into a full-blown crisis for Facebook. The social network disclosed Friday night it suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform after claiming it had improperly obtained information on 50 million user profiles. Cambridge Analytica has said any data obtained through Facebook was done so “legally and fairly.” Here’s everything we know about the brewing scandal:
How it started
On Friday, Facebook revealed the suspension of Cambridge Analytica, claiming the data firm secured information on user profiles through a personality quiz app from Global Science Research without permission. The app collected information such as hometown, content the users liked and their friends, as well as information from people’s friends. The next morning, reports from The New York Times and The Observer of London surfaced alleging Cambridge Analytica used that data to target voters during the 2016 presidential election.
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica said it complied with Facebook’s terms of service and is working to resolve the matter. “No data from (Global Science Research) was used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign.” After reports of the scandal published, Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth used Twitter to dispute claims the incident constituted a data breach. “People chose to share their data with third party apps and if those third party apps did not follow the data agreements with us/users it is a violation,” he wrote.
Why does this matter?
Facebook is already under scrutiny over the impact of Russian ads run on its platform during the presidential election. Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica was asked in December to turn over documents to special counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his investigation into possible Russian collusion. Beyond Russia, the incident has raised concerns over how well-equipped Facebook is at keeping data secure from third parties.
What does this mean for users?
One thing Facebook users should consider doing now is checking privacy settings to review which apps and services have Facebook permissions. If there’s a service or app causing concern, users can revoke access.
As Facebook shares plunge in the U.S., lawmakers seek hearings to look into what Facebook is doing to secure user data. On Twitter, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is urging CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress.