For the first time ever starting yesterday (Tuesday, April 10th), Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, faced the United States Congress. During the course of this seemingly endless five hour hearing, Zuckerberg answered questions from the Senate commerce and judiciary committees on privacy, data mining, regulations, as well as the group Cambridge Analytica.
In the digital age, it is now more important than ever to be worried about your right to privacy, which can easily be exploited when using the internet. Social media platforms like Facebook make it very confusing for the average user to know exactly where their information is being stored and how it is going to be used. While every user has a right to privacy, these long and drawn out privacy policies mean that a reduced number of people are going to read the entire thing which makes them vulnerable to all sorts of breaches including data mining that can be used and sold for political means, as is the case here. Cambridge Analytica was able to access people’s data through third-party apps where many users unwittingly and unintentionally shared not only their own data, but the data of more than 50 million other users that was stored and sold for political means.
Zuckerberg then goes on to clarify that they do, in fact, store data with people’s permissions and absolutely do not sell data to advertisers, but rather allows advertisers to tell them who they want to reach and places them in front of those people which he says is an “often misunderstood part of how our model works.” Yet, groups like Cambridge Analytica were able to access loads of data and lied about not using it and deleting it. How could something like that slip through the cracks? While Zuckerberg takes full responsibility for these mistakes stating,: “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here. It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”, there is absolutely no excuse as the executive of this company for letting this type of breach happen. When it comes to doing business with anybody, you can NEVER take somebody for their word, take action and cover all of your bases to prevent any harm from being done in the first place.
If this action was taken earlier by Zuckerberg and his executives, then maybe we wouldn’t have such a problem with Russian interference and exploitation of our internet systems and the sale of millions of user’s data. Use this as a lesson for the future to be clear in your regulations, be very clear in any and all policies you enact, and if you see a problem, identify it and take care of it quickly before it escalates as it did here. It is important for businesses to ensure the highest quality of service and to be client-service oriented. If a business fails to do, it may not have the capital, like Facebook, to continue its operations.