THE ISSUE: The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal regarding leaked Facebook users' data sparked a #deleteFacebook movement. Among the thousands of conversations about online privacy and the rights of political campaigns to personal information, the editorial board presents two viewpoints.
The focus of the Cambridge Analytica scandal is on Facebook, as it should be.
Facebook’s policies regarding third-party applications allowed for this “major breach of trust.” The siphoning of Facebook users’ personal data into a political research organization technically was not a data breach or an illegal exploitation of users’ private information, and that fact is deeply unsettling. Facebook’s business model, which requires users to give up personal information in exchange for services, is at fault for the endangering the private profiles of at least 50 million users.
In addition to exposing the faults with Facebook’s business model, the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed the ease with which actors could use Facebook in deceptive ways. Cambridge Analytica hired Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor, to build a personality quiz to gather personality data which could then be used to create highly sophisticated voter profiles. The people who took Dr. Kogan’s quiz had no knowledge that their answers would be used for political purposes. The lack of transparency is clearly one of the issues at stake here. The people who took the personality quiz thought their answers were only being used for academic purposes, when in reality, they were being used to create highly targeted political advertisements that were often deceptive.