Today Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before the Congress!
Much Ado about Data
Here is the link to the CNET livestream, if you are interested in watching.
If you are a daily facebook user, you probably already have heard about the massive personal data leak, and perhaps even been affected by it. For those who missed this news entirely, here’s the story in a nutshell.
The UK based political data firm Cambridge Analytica has been harvesting personal data of more than 50 millions facebookers, to be able to use them in the Republican election campaign of 2016. The political data firm was doing this without consent of any of the users, and of course without even their knowledge. The data was used for psychological profiling, since Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer (who was tied to CA) specializes in it.
One of the CA co-founders, Christopher Wylie, was the one who sank the whole business. Even as I was writing this article he shared more information pertaining to the data storage issue. Wylie assumed that the data can be stored on Russian servers, since one of the Cambridge Analytica bosses, Alexandr Kogan is Russian and commuted a lot between Russia and the UK. We, at iGotOffer, don’t have any insiders, but as far as we know, “analytica” is the Russian word for “analytics”. While our big bosses from security agencies are fussing over alleged backdoors in Chinese smartphones, the firm with the Russian title and roots is robbing people of their personal data in plain sight.
Mark Zuckerberg is going to face Congress today to answer several unpleasant questions. The most important of them questioning how could Facebook turn a blind eye to such an outrageous personal data abuse? Facebook has known about the CA activity since 2015! Yet the company was suspended from the platform and its page was deleted only AFTER everything had come out in the open. If Mark did have a vision of what Facebook had to be for people, his conception could not be more different than ours. According to Facebook, all they did was just ask Cambridge Analytica to stop harvesting users’ data. The company promised it would not longer do so, but that is where Facebook just let it be
The serious question here is… do we really need social media to be like this? Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon even threatened to break the social network up if Mr. Zuckerberg would fail to give any plausible explanation In all honesty, we can’t help but support that.
The Facebook-gate also brings up the issue of personal data property. It never occurred to anyone before that one’s personal data can be a subject to property laws, but new technologies brought along new challenges.
To whom do your bio, pictures, texts and likes belong to? Does your data corpus belong to you or is it public property? Pilfering other people’s pictures or posts, even identity theft isn’t uncommon to us these days. Taking existing laws into consideration, Cambridge Analytica is innocent. We lost nothing and are still robbed of everything we thought was ours.
One can say that you upload your whole life on Facebook for everyone to see, you had to see this coming. If we start to become paranoid and start to try to make our name, school info, job info and so on private or fake, it will change the whole aspect of what Facebook is.
Facebook was created so people can stay in touch with friends, family, coworkers and classmates. I want to be able to find my best friend or my coworker, or the girl I used to take yoga with, without a problem. I don’t want to play any games in trying to guess who these people are because they have nicknames like Dragon Slayer or Anny256. If I wanted that, I would just join a forum.
The problem is that even the Dragon Slayers of the world aren’t 100% secure. Facebook will know at least two things about every… your email and your phone number. It will also see and know your location as well. That’s why the only true way we can be safe is if the other party plays fair. In our most recent news, you can see that it didn’t play fair at all.
The most infuriating thing about the Facebook-gate is that they confessed only after they were caught red-handed. People say that you need to ask questions if you want to get answers. The problem is that no one ever asked what Facebook can do with our data… and most importantly… what does it WANT to do with our data?
Social media should treat this whole situation with respect. I believe this scandal is the peak we needed to reach for change. The laws pertaining to personal data need to be completely revised to meet the demands of modern era. Perhaps this scandal will help make that happen.