Facebook is once again in trouble this spring. Reports show that Cambridge Analytica accessed and weaponized the data of quite a large number of users (87 million users). It managed to do that through an online quiz that was conducted on 300,000 people and the social media giant is being attacked for the cavalier attitude it put up despite learning about this breach.
Details regarding the matter
A short while ago, the business guru undisclosed arrangements with about 60 device makers that gave BlackBerry, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and other companies access to significant amounts of data of users and friends as well.
It was in 2007 that Facebook started signing these agreements. The company has defended itself arguing that the agreements were not in violation of the 2011 consent decree it reached with the Federal Trade Commission or its terms of service. It considers the manufacturers of tablets “service providers” and hardware manufacturers like smartphones as an extension of the social media giant as opposed to them being third parties.
Intervention of the 2011 consent decree
The 2011 consent decree has indicated its solidarity, with the users by forbidding Facebook from engaging in any activities that breached privacy. It said that the company needed to obtain explicit consent from a user’s friends before moving ahead to share the data.
Former Facebook employees have criticized the social media giant for allowing such to continue over such an elongated period of time. Before he left the company in 2012, Sandy Parakilas outlined that the matter had been flagged internally as a privacy concern. He said that it would be unfortunate if the practice could be left to take root six years later.
Ashkan Soltani’s perspective
Ashkan Soltani, former FTC chief technologist compared the agreements to the installation of door locks. He mocked it by saying that the locksmith had also provided keys to the friends of the owner. According to him, the friends had everything they needed to do as they pleased, including moving in and rifling through the stuff of the owner without having to ask for permission. He said that it was a bad thing.
The embattled social media giant through its spokesperson has admitted that it is going through tough times. Users, regulators and lawmakers from around the globe have lately been scrutinizing it and its activities. They have indicated greater interest in the way the company handles personal data as well as on the subsequent moves it has made in a bid to protect user privacy.