The Facebook Data Breach
Facebook, the world’s most popular social media network, revealed that its users’ data was being used by other third party groups in an outright privacy infringement.
Back in 2010, Facebook released the API of Open Graph, which was a platform that allowed third party apps to access the personal information of certain users and their friends. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan developed an app called “thisisyourdigitallife”, prompting users to answer questions for a psychological profile. With nearly 300,00 users paid to take the test and access to each user’s friend data, the app had amassed the personal data of several millions of users.
In 2014, Facebook revised Open Graph’s policies to prevent third party services from taking information from user’s friends. However, Kogan did not delete the data he had acquired before this modification. It was not until 2015 that Kogan’s app came to Facebook’s attention with The Guardian’s publication about Ted Cruz’s usage of the service during his campaign to gain an edge over Donald Trump. In response, President Trump invested in Facebook ads using Cambridge Analytica – sparking interest in the app from investigative teams.
Finally, on March 17, 2018, The Guardian and The New York Times reported that Cambridge Analytica had gained access to the personal information of 50 million accounts – a number soon revised to 87 million.
If it had been any other company, Facebook would likely have had no chance of recovering its reputation and would have joined the ranks of outdated messaging services like Skype. The main reason why Facebook hasn’t failed is because of its prevalence and necessity in our lives. Because it is a major part of both professional and personal lives, most users chose not to delete their Facebook accounts. However, the damage from the data breach clearly showed in different statistics. Only 29% of respondents to a survey stated that they believed that the company was dedicated to privacy, down from nearly 80% last year. Facebook stocks also dropped as much as 24% in late March following the scrutiny. Facebook lost $134 billion in the process.
For more information about this topic, check out the following links: