Facebook admits data failings as chiefs face questions from TDs

Clay Curtis
April 17, 2018

Facebook, the social media giant, this week claimed that 5.62 lakh users in India were possibly impacted by worldwide data leak scandal comprising the UK-located Cambridge Analytica.

Contained within that privacy policy was extremely common language about the user given the app access to all sorts of information on your phone, including your Facebook contacts.

Cambridge Analytica is accused of acquiring the data of 87 million Facebook users through an academic researcher at the University of Cambridge, Alexander Kogan. She adds that managing what information can and cannot be used by Facebook is quite complicated saying, "Even if you understand the Facebook business model, you would be hard pushed to know how far your data goes".

More than 44,000 people in Ireland may also have had their data improperly shared.

"One aspect of the data that was leaked from Facebook was personality profile data".

At a minimum, "Facebook is going to have to think about ways to structure their technology to give that proper notice", said Woodrow Hartzog, a Northeastern University professor of law and computer science.

SA Facebook users exposed

The session will also see detailed scrutiny of the Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill 2017, which aims to ban the use of automated social media accounts to manipulate online political debates and influence campaigns.

"Social media is eroding democracy", Summers said.

Facebook often installs cookies on non-users' browsers if they visit sites with Facebook "like" and "share" buttons, whether or not a person pushes a button.

Would Mark Zuckerberg change Facebook's business model to put users' privacy concerns first?

Though Summers said people can't expect Facebook to be "good stewards" of user data, Chang believes that others should focus on hacking and privacy in general, and not just pointing fingers at Facebook.

"If I'm not a Facebook user, I ought to have a right to know what data Facebook has about me", Froomkin said. That said, Facebook has known that this has been happening for years, and there is not much they can do about it, so they haven't: how do you know that digital information is being sold to someone else? "Knowing what we know now, we should have handled a lot of things differently".

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