Executives from Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm who currently find themselves in the middle of a Facebook data breach investigation, boasted of playing an integral role in Donald Trump’s election as president.
In an undercover expose by Channel 4 News, executives from the US-based data firm confessed to producing “unattributable and untrackable” advertisements on Facebook to support their clients in the election.
Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix was taped saying he met with Trump many times, while another executive said the firm was liable for the “defeat crooked Hillary” campaign.
The executive continued, “We just put information into the bloodstream of the internet and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to watch it take shape.” He added that the ads infiltrated the community without branding – making it difficult to identify or trace.
Nix also unknowingly confessed to the fact that his company had a hand in doing the research, analytics, and targeting for the Trump campaign.
Cambridge Analytica used unattributable and untrackable Facebook ads to help elect Donald Trump.
This adds on to the trouble mounting for Cambridge Analytica as they reportedly had unauthorised access to at least 50 million Facebook profiles that were used for their political targeting system.
Speaking about the expose in an interview with BBC, Nix stated he had “huge amounts of regret that we undertook this meeting and spoke with a certain amount of hyperbole.”
The scale of the user privacy violation showed how Facebook’s terms of service were structured at the time. It should be mentioned this was not a data breach, as this was how Facebook’s infrastructure was meant to work.
On top of Facebook’s part in Trump’s presidential election, this should serve as a warning to users since their private data are readily available to the myriad of third-party business groups who have access to this.
Users should be able to have control over what data is mined and how it is used; but in the meantime, aside from leaving Facebook completely, there is a way to take control of your privacy.
Here are some steps to gain back control of your Facebook data:
1) Log onto Facebook and go to the App Settings page (Settings Menu > Apps).
2) Go to “Apps, Websites and Plugins”, then click “Edit” and then “Disable Platform”
Disabling the platform might be too much for some users, so limiting the information accessed by the apps used can work as an alternative.
On the same page, go to “Edit” in “Apps Others Use” and uncheck all information that you do not want others’ apps to access.
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