Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took out full-page ads in several high-profile newspapers Sunday, March 25th
…including the UK’s The Observer, The Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday Express and Sunday Telegraph, along with American newspapers The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. Zuckerberg apologized for the “breach of trust” that occurred in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Critics might say it was too little too late—that all it took was an almost 50 billion dollar loss in valuation the week prior. That indeed is the amount that Facebook was pummeled after news of the breach became widely known.
“You may have heard about a quiz app built by a university researcher that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014,” said the ads, which were signed by Zuckerberg. “This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. We’re now taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
And if anyone is wondering still what the big deal was, really, with the results of some silly quiz leaked—well, they haven’t heard about the ties of Cambridge Analytica—a company owned by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer who’s also (not surprisingly) the #3 Republican/conservative mega-donor— to the American elections. But that’s not all.
Turns out Cambridge Analytica also had ties to the Brexit vote. A whistleblower revealed to the Observer how the data analytics firm worked with both the Donald Trump election team and the pro-Brexit campaign. By analyzing millions of Facebook profiles, they were able to build a software program to predict—and influence via use of personalized political advertisements—choices at the ballot box.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted news of her own investigation: “Residents deserve answers immediately from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.” Democratic senator Mark Warner said improved controls were needed to prevent large-scale harvesting of data political targeting. “Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads, or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency.”
The New York Times reported that some of the data that was harvested could still be found online. A single app, thisisyourdigitallife, was a personality test that collected the test takers’ data, including Facebook friends. With this data harvest coming on the heels of the 13 Russians indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, there are now two high-profile instances in which Facebook has been identified as the platform used to conduct “information warfare” against United States citizens, as well as in the Brexit vote.
Christopher Wylie, who helped obtain the data, said to the Observer, “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.”
Facebook said it removed the app in 2015, and last Friday announced that it was suspending Cambridge Analytica the platform, and was conducting investigations over misuse of data. And while a majority of American states have laws that require notification in cases of data breach, Facebook denies that the Cambridge Analytica harvest was in fact a data breach. The “access to this information (occurred) in a legitimate way and through the proper channels,” said Facebook, adding that the passing of the data to a third party afterwards “did not subsequently abide by our rules.”
Data. It’s likely that no one who took a quiz on Facebook ever anticipated that their data would become valuable.
Turns out that many underestimated the value of their own data. Truth is, by assembling lots and lots of data and having a means analyze it—very big things can happen. Like influencing an American election—perhaps winning it for one party or another—or even getting an entire country to vote that it’s not really part of Europe anymore.
Looking at 2017, this was a year of the ability of technology to interrupt, re-rank, and recodify what it means to be in business. Technology—and the value of data—have never been more in the news, and this cycle is poised to only continue.
So what about the data that is vital to your company?
Can you find what you need when you need it? Do your data silos work intelligently together?
5i is in business to help your company do business better with technology, and bigger business with better access to data.
Technology allows innovation and speed to market, increases employee productivity and satisfaction, and allows business and government to bring to their customers and constituents significantly higher levels of satisfaction—all through a better understanding of what is really going on.
Call 5i Solutions to learn about document management and data security solutions that can be implemented easily and cost-effectively. These solutions will work with your current workflows and systems. Your vital data will be secured, yet available 24/7 from anywhere in the world—only, of course, to those authorized to have access to it.
And you won’t believe what you can do with your date when suddenly everything you need is at your fingertips.
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5i Solutions. One single, secure point of intake, access, and storage. One singular solution.
5i Solutions, Inc.