Also on Monday, a bipartisan group of attorneys-general representing 37 U.S. states wrote a joint letter to Facebook demanding answers to what led to the breach and how the company allowed it to happen. After all, “Who will watch the watchmen” if the regulations rely on Facebook input?
During the summer of 2014, the United Kingdom affiliate of US political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica hired a Soviet-born American researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, to gather basic profile information of Facebook users along with what they chose to “Like”.
Some of the questions may have been infantile, and some of the grandstanding amounted to a sideshow (as it so often does), but the hearings sent an obvious message: Namely, that Congress thinks Facebook is up to something – even if it’s not too sure what it is exactly – and they’re willing to consider legislation to clean things up. The app, in its terms of service, disclosed that it would collect data on users and their friends. Lawsuits by the Department of Justice to block future acquisitions of competitors on antitrust grounds will do little to prevent Facebook from developing its own competing products and stifling the competitors’ growth, as it has done with Snapchat.
Amid a flurry of criticism pointed towards Facebook and its creator, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook introduced an option for users to download their personal data – the data that Facebook has been storing since you created your profile on the social media website.
But it was also Graham who asked one of the most important questions of the five hours’ worth of grilling that was set to continue in the U.S. House on Wednesday – whether Facebook is a monopoly.
Then what’s the issue here? We deserve all the good that Facebook and other centralized social networks do – but not at the price we’re paying. Facebook, which said it is conducting an audit of how the feature can be misused, did not say when it would lift the block. Mr Cole said the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect in May, will solve some of the problems the Facebook situation revealed.
Has the data been destroyed?
More recently, revelations about Facebook have entered even darker dimensions.
Alastair Mactaggart, the chief proponent of the proposed initiative, said: “We’re gratified that Facebook has dropped its opposition to the California Consumer Privacy Act“.
Why did Cambridge Analytica want the data? And what if Clinton had won the election and done so in part because of successful mining of Facebook data?
Did Cambridge Analytica pay Kogan? It costs hundreds of thousands of dong and several millions of dong a month to buy apps which he can use to “filter” the personal information of Facebookers for specific purposes. They have to have some knowledge of how other companies in their chain, be it data suppliers or customers, are using that data.
Did the Facebook data help Trump win the presidency? It wasn’t clear, however others were not awed by his answer. “They also are really great surveillance devices”.
Did any of this violate any rules?
Zuckerberg repeatedly assured lawmakers that he didn’t believe the company violated its 2011 agreement with FTC. Lawmakers in the US and United Kingdom are conducting their own inquiries.
Blackburn asked Zuckerberg to support the legislation at a hearing, but he said he wasn’t familiar with the details of the bill. “Facebook has been extremely successful in developing tools and algorithms to stop certain types of content from being pushed on the site, and we’re hopeful they will do the same to stop the sale of drugs”, he added.