You have probably heard or seen the words “Facebook” and “Cambridge Analytica” a lot recently. But, have you taken the time to understand what all the hubbub is about? It probably affected you in some way, shape or form. This blog will give you five things you should know to simplify the story.
Cambridge Analytica is a company based out of London, England that synthesizes consumer data for political and business clients. Their clients are able to use massive amounts of information to target specific consumers through marketing. CambridgeAnalytica found itself in hot water when they retrieved information from 50 million Facebook users in 2014. They used this Facebook information to build a software program that predicts how people will vote in election.
Have you seen the pictures and videos of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg nervously drinking water while testifying in court about this case? He has good reason to be nervous, because Facebook is on thin ice themselves. They did not alert the 50 million people who were victims of stolen profile data until over a year after it happened. Facebook claims that Cambridge Analytica gathered the information legitimately, but that they broke the rules by sharing the information with third parties outside their own company.
Data mining is a buzzword right now, but you may not know what it truly means. It is an analytical process that takes large amounts of information, otherwise known as “big data”, and pick out patterns within that information. It is essentially finding needles in a digital haystack. Data mining masters the art of prediction. It aims to know what you want before you know what you want.
The plot thickened during the 2016 presidential election when the Trump campaign used the newly created predictive software from Cambridge Analytica. The political world across the globe is now being closely scrutinized. Cambridge Analytica has many high powered conservative investors and the company has been accused of undermining the political process in order to reshape politics in the conservative’s favor.
To Be Continued
After years of investigations, Cambridge Analytica is officially shutting down. The company claims that this situation has driven away all of its customers while still maintaining their actions were legal. As investigations continue, the company has been asked to provide proof that they have truly deleted the stolen data from the 50 million Facebook users. Data mining and predictive technology is not going away anytime soon, so make sure to do what you can to safeguard your personal information.
Cade is a junior Journalism – Strategic Communication major and the Scripps PRSSA 2018-2019 VP of PR. You can connect with him on Twitter @cade_fleming