Facebook Data Breach: A Complete Story

An alleged data compromise involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has taken place. In response to that, the largest social network company is being severely questioned. Cambridge Analytica works in data mining and brokerage for communication processes. Let’s decode the story for you step by step.

How was the data collected?

A data scientist at Global Science Research, Aleksandr Kogan, had aided in the development of an app ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ for Cambridge Analytica. The app gave them access to the data of millions of Facebook users. Furthermore, the app asked users for taking a psychological test in exchange for a payment. While the users took the test, the collected the user information. The app also collected data from one’s Facebook friend list and other information. With this technique, data of more than 50 million users were mined, and Kogan helped transfer the details to Cambridge Analytica.

 What did Cambridge Analytica do with the data?

The collection of data was followed by the creation of a software that helped leverage choices in elections. Christopher Wylie, who was the taleteller of the story, had alerted few dailies about the abnormal practices of the firm. He further asserted that this information was then used to develop ‘psychographic’ profiles of people and deliver pro-Trump material to them online. Nevertheless, Cambridge Analytica has strictly denied any such connection.

How did the felony break-out?

An investigation began after Channel 4 News broadcasted a recorded film which was followed by some reports and articles in few leading newspapers. The articles suggested how the data of millions of Facebook users has been used by Cambridge Analytica for all the wrong purposes, breaching the very basic term of Facebook, i.e., privacy while affecting greater causes.

What does the film reveal?

A video sting investigation was made into the matter. A reporter from Britain’s Channel 4 News posed as an agent of a wealthy Sri Lankan family eager to gain political standing. With that disguise, the reporter asked for suggestions from the executives of Cambridge Analytica. The executives denied advocating any move at the beginning. However, after a few meeting sessions, they suggested a few means how the privy purpose could be achieved. This event caught few senior executives of Cambridge Analytica including its CEO, Alexander Nix bragging about psychological manipulation, fake news campaigns and entrapment techniques. However, the use of word ‘entrapment’ is completely denied by the executives.

What is its impact on India?

After the data controversy engaging Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, a tiff started between few of the political parties in India, accusing each other of being involved in compromising data to Cambridge Analytica. The situation is skeptical where both the parties are being suspected to have used the services of the controversial data firm.

How is Facebook responding to such a breach?

While Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder, and CEO of Facebook, has repeatedly shown his regret and apology for such a major breach of trust, he continued to say that he would wait to comment on the issue up till the company’s audit of alleged data mishandling is over.

For now, he is demanding audits for all apps that are allowed to task on Facebook, failing or not complying with which will completely ban the app from the network. Also, restricting data access of developers is being curtailed for further such abuse. The company is also launching a tool, early next month that shows the user a list of developers who have access to their data, also allowing them to revoke their permissions.

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