Breaching privacy laws through social media

Facebook scandal hits the news


During the years 2012 and 2016, Facebook compromised 87 million user’s private information to Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg is pictured in his trial with the U.S. Senate on April 11. photo by Creative Commons

Story by Nick Mitchell, staff writer

In the midst of a scandal tearing apart modern American privacy, one name stands out: Mark Zuckerberg. Mark Zuckerberg co-founded social media giant Facebook, and is currently the chief executive officer and chairman of the company.

Facebook was hit with a shocking report that they illegally shared the private data of 87 million users with British company Cambridge Analytica during the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. Zuckerberg, as the head of Facebook, was ripped for this controversy. The question is, just how hard does this hit home?

Zuckerberg had to face the U.S. Senate in a hearing involving data privacy and protection. Despite the fact that this issue wasn’t concernable to all Senate members, nearly half of the Senate showed up for the hearing due to Facebook’s size and relevance.

Zuckerberg took the high ground in the hearing, taking full responsibility for the scandal.

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake. And I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here,” Zuckerberg said during his hearing with the Senate.

Another point brought forward by Zuckerberg was the positive effects Facebook can have. Despite the scandal, Facebook has made many steps to help and aid people since its establishment.

“Just recently, we’ve seen the “Me Too” movement and the March for Our Lives organized, at least in part, on Facebook. After Hurricane Harvey, people came together to raise more than $20 million for relief. And more than 70 million businesses — small business — use Facebook to create jobs and grow,” Zuckerberg said.

To prevent this from ever happening again, going forward, we’re making sure that developers can’t access as much information now.”

— Mark Zuckerberg

Cambridge Analytica is known for analyzing data for presidential campaigns, doing so for Ted Cruz in 2016 presidential primaries and incumbent President Donald Trump in the presidential race, citing themselves as one of his key reasons for victory. Infamous Stephen Bannon helped Trump utilize the company in his election.

What the company’s purpose in collecting the data for originally is not currently known, but all the data has been confiscated or deleted allegedly. Zuckerberg made very clear that by collaborating with the company and with United States and British government agencies, the problem has been handled and the data is no longer compromised.

“To prevent this from ever happening again, going forward, we’re making sure that developers can’t access as much information now. The good news here is that we already made big changes to our platform in 2014 that would have prevented this specific situation with Cambridge Analytica from occurring again today,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg has assured users this problem will not happen again, but the reality of that cannot be determined. With the ability of modern hackers and companies, online privacy may never be what it seems.