By Nicholas Perugini, Trending Writer
For years, people have been questioning Facebook’s private data collection policies, specifically what type of data they collect and whom they sell it too. This became a more heated issue with the 2016 Presidential election as campaigns took to social media to get their message across. In 2017, the New York Times reported on Russian efforts to use Facebook ads to sow discontent among the American people and cause distrust in American political intuitions. Russia was able to use Facebook’s ad services to target voters who were vulnerable to such ads. Since then, Facebook has been under heavy scrutiny for allowing a foreign power to influence the U.S. public. As reporters began to investigate Facebook for more breach of ethics, a whistle-blower revealed himself to the public.
Christopher Wylie, a research director at the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytical, revealed to the public that the company had handled personal data of American voters from Facebook and sold it to political campaigns. This type of shady dealing had been going on since 2014 and Cambridge Analytical has sold information to high-level politicians, like President Trump’s new nation security advisor John Bolton, as reported by the New York Times. As more information was revealed, users were shocked to see that their personal information was being used without their knowledge. A report from CNBC says that over 87 million Facebook users had their information given to Cambridge Analytical. This estimate is up from the initial 50 million estimate that Facebook gave earlier last month.
For the past two years, Facebook has been under scrutiny and for some users the scandals have been too much. Now #deletefacebook has begun to trend as users show their displeasure with the company’s policies. Even some notable celebrities like Will Ferrell and Cher have deceived to delete their accounts, showing solidarity with the movement.
As Facebook reels from this new scandal, Mark Zuckerberg has been called to testify in front of Congress to explain the situation. British Parliament has also called for Zuckerberg to appear, but he snubbed them, instead sending a representative to parliament. With reports from CBS that Zuckerberg has deleted messages, it seems as if Facebook is in damage control mode and is trying to stop any more investigations. While it is uncertain if many users will actually delete their Facebook accounts, this recent scandal has brought attention to the dangers of the online world.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 10th print edition.
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