Opinion

FACEBOOK NOT AT FAULT

NIKHIL AGGARWAL

STAFF WRITER

 

In this era of fast technological advancements, data is one of the most important assets that governs our society. It’s in our phones, computers and circulating the internet constantly. The world has created nearly all of its data in the past three years. Globally, over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being churned out every day, and it is only growing. The world has never before witnessed such a treasure of data, and the ways that this data can be used has mushroomed. The data can be analyzed to determine things like weather, and it can also be used to conduct research. (Insert argument statement).

Cambridge Analytica, a company that utilizes personal data, is now infamous because of a controversy involving its use of Facebook user data to potentially influence the U.S. 2016 Trump elections. Allegedly, this company obtained the user profiles of over 50 million Facebook users from another company known as Global Science Research. This company created a Facebook app and collected data of people who used the app along with their friends. This data was then sold to Cambridge Analytica—an act which was not permitted under Facebook’s policies.

So should Facebook be held accountable for the occurence any of these events? The answer is no – the culprit was the transfer of data, from Global Science Research to Cambridge Analytica, which was not permitted under Facebook’s standards. Surprisingly, people are generally not outraged that voters were influenced through the collection of their personal data. Advertisements that  influence people on elections are used frequently; for example, political parties are free to advertise in newspapers to influence the elections, but that is not considered immoral, according to the majority of the population. All social media companies collect data; that’s how they function. They show ads to help the users and people. For example, people in California don’t want to see ads about coffee shops in New York City, but rather ads that will catch their eye and cater to their needs.

Instead, people are outraged at how data is being collected, as people are under the false impression that their data is not being exploited for commercial use. Perhaps if the social media companies disclose publicly that they will collect, share, and sell our behavior data to other companies, customers can make the choice to either use or avoid the site knowing the risks, instead of complaining about privacy violations after the fact. Currently, such policies are buried between the lines of “I Accept the Terms and Agreements.”

It is the age of digital data and social media, and sufficient regulations have not been formed yet because these situations have not been thought about. Such incidents will force the lawmakers and the congress to create stricter laws about collecting our data and it is about time. These incidents did not result in something like horrible such as a war; it was a mild incident because the same impact could have been achieved by newspapers ads as well. It would not have become such a big issue if Cambridge Analytica was selling us toothpaste, but it has become a big issue and people have now realized the potential uses/hazards of this data to lawmakers in Congress. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise to force lawmakers to make more stringent rules and to force all social media companies to have tighter regulations about the User’s data.