One hot topic in society is the question, “What are our rights on social media?” Well we have the right to post, share and like cute dog pictures till the end of the time. But according to Cambridge Analytica, we really don’t have any rights.
What is Cambridge Analytica? It’s a political data-analysis firm. Their mission was to have data points on every single American so they could build extensive personality profiles. These profiles would be sold to clients so they know what kind of people would be most likely to click or be swayed by their advertisements.
Chances are you’ve heard of Cambridge Analytica either from the 2016 Trump campaign, or the Netflix documentary exposing the dark side of the company, “The Great Hack.” I learned through this documentary about how Cambridge Analytica got a hold of one of the biggest datasets of the American electorate in history. Precisely 50 million Facebook users’ data was secretly kept without their permission.
Was it okay for a company to store that much data just to increase the efficiency of ads? Well that depends on who you’re talking to. When you join a social media platform, the creators block the “get started button” with a little check box asking if “you accept the terms and conditions.” Knowing very few people will actually take the time to read that long of a contract, creators choose that to be the warning that for exchange of a free platform to connect, message and call people, you will put your data at risk.
Personally, I don’t think social media platforms should be responsible for regulating content and should be allowed to access the data you put on the website. If these platforms were held accountable for regulating content, then we would have to pay to use them. In addition, we could not freely post the content we want to with these restrictions. I believe it is up to the user to be mindful and not post seriously sensitive information online. If the user needs to share something as private as their credit card information, they need to use common sense and only share that information on trustworthy websites.
With that said, although I feel it was slightly immoral to use a third party app and buy off Facebook data just to increase the chances of winning the election, it’s not illegal. Facebook users agreed to having their data tracked when they created the account. It was their own fault for not reading the terms and conditions. Any campaign in this day and age must rely on ad targeting and Trump’s staff made a huge investment into Cambridge Analytica’s services to increase his chances of winning. And although Cambridge Analytica no longer exists today due to the results of court cases, many websites use their strategic ways to track all of your data.
Facebook, like many other platforms, is still known for their data tracking skills to create personal advertising since the 2016 election. Their philosophy is: if you’re going to have to view an ad to use the site, might as well make it an ad that interests you. So Facebook tracks everything you like, your locations and who you’re friends with to decide on what you like. This seems harmless: a trade for data in exchange for having the ability to call, text and share for free is a deal I am willing to take.