Congressional testimony, scandal elicits controversy

Facebook scandal raises questions over user data

Gabriel Kaplan

Social media site Facebook has failed its nearly two billion users by not only collecting copious amounts of personal information, but also by allowing third parties to access private user data.

Starting in 2014 and lasting through the 2016 presidential election, U.K.-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica improperly mined data from up to 87 million Facebook users in order to aid the 2016 Trump campaign, according to the New York Times.

Following the scandal, Facebook found itself in jeopardy for collecting private information without express permission and for allowing third parties to access personal data.

The fact that Facebook collects mounds of private information is alarming, but not as horrifying as the idea that they are unable to guard that data from external organizations, such as Cambridge Analytica.

Such mass data collection is unacceptable. A social network should not be allowed to collect so much information with so little consent, especially when that data is then used for profit.

As a result of this scandal, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify before a number of congressional committees.

Zuckerberg was criticized by senators and congressmen alike for the Cambridge Analytica scandal and for breaching user privacy.

During his testimony, Zuckerberg was questioned heavily about Facebook users’ right to privacy. In one of his responses, the CEO referred to Facebook’s mass storage of personal information, according to the New York Times.

“Yes, we store data . . . some of that content with people’s permission,” Zuckerberg said in response to a question about whether Facebook sells personal information to advertisers.

Zuckerberg seems to suggest only some of the personal information Facebook collects is gathered with permission, which is outrageous considering this information is used to make advertising sales.

The rest of the information Facebook stores is supposedly held with user consent, but in actuality, very few patrons know what data is collected about them.

In 2017 alone, Facebook made nearly $12.8 billion selling ads, many of which were targeted based on personal information users did not agree to give, according to Bloomberg.

Without the consent of the user, it is disturbing to hear these large corporations are utilizing personal information for profit.

The law must be changed in order to prevent Facebook and companies like it, from using mass exploitation as a business model.