Facebook and Cambridge Analytica – What’s it all about?

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica – What’s it all about?

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica – What’s it all about?

Cambridge Analytica Explained

In summer 2014, an academic researcher working at Cambridge University called Aleksandr Kogan developed a personality-quiz app for Facebook, that was heavily influenced by a similar app made by the Psychometrics Centre he worked at. Approximately 270’000 users installed Kogan’s app to their facebook account – this gave Kogan access to data about these users but also the data of their friends. This information was saved in a private database instead of being deleted – Kogan then shared this private database with the voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica, the database at this point contained information about 50million facebook users. Cambridge Analytica then used this data to make 30 million psychographic profiles about voters.

Cambridge Analytica used these profiles for targeted campaign adverts for both Trump in the US and the Brexit leave campaign here.

Why is Everyone So Mad at Facebook?

Facebook was aware of the unprecedented¬† data harvesting, but chose not to notify the users who’s data was affected – while this was not technically a data breach (the information was not hacked users agreed the app could have access to their data) Cambridge Analytica violated Facebook’s terms of service but they had no safeguards in place to stop them from doing so. Basically it has revealed just how personal data shared on Facebook can be obtained and exploited.

Facebook’s value has dropped by $37 billion dollars since the revelation and users have taken to other social media platforms to voice their despair.¬† It will be sometime before we know how many people choose to delete their accounts from Facebook due to this incident.

Is that the Solution?

The temporary satisfaction felt by some for deleting their Facebook account, doesn’t solve the overall problems that datafication brings to our everyday lives, and it certainly is not the answer for the small business owners that use Facebook as a means to promote their businesses on a day to day basis. When the GDPR comes into force in May this will go some way in making businesses and researchers be more accountable for what happens with their users data, but as a personal user and as a business user you should take responsibility for the data that you share.

Personal Accounts

You can check just what information and permissions you have given to certain apps on Facebook by logging in and visiting Settings and Apps – look at is as an opportunity to clear out any old and unnecessary apps – I had an App on there from an LG phone I last used in 2012, and who knows how long some of the App’s I didn’t recognise had been sitting there for?

Apps on Facebook, Protect your Data, Yellow Cherry Digital Ltd Inverness

Once you have cleaned out your existing apps and set the correct permissions on the ones you still want to use, be careful when allowing new Apps to Access your account, find out exactly what information they are going to have access to and then make a judgement on whether you can trust the app provider or not.

You can also check the data that Facebook holds for you, again by visiting settings and in the general tab selecting the link that says download a copy of your Facebook data – here you can find out information on the advertisers that hold your contact information and ads that you have clicked on.

These are the Advertisers that hold my contact information:


Advertisers on Facebook, Protect Your Data, Facebook, Yellow Cherry Digital Ltd

This should allow you to find out if there is anyone holding your contact information that you don’t want to – the next step here would be to contact these companies directly and ask them to delete any data that they hold on you.

See here for tips on protecting your data online

Business on Facebook

As a business, it is your responsibility not only on Facebook and other social media platforms to be transparent with your users on what you do with their data. You can check out information on GDPR from out blog in January – if you are working inline with GDPR then you are taking the right path to ensure you are using data responsibly.

With Facebook’s popularity plummeting, it is also a good opportunity to ensure that your business does not have all it’s promotional eggs in one basket – if users are leaving the platform then they will also be leaving your page. Check your existing website and accounts on other social media offerings and bring them up to date so you can use these as tools to connect with people. Consider adding email marketing and Google Adwords to your advertising toolbet instead of relying only on Facebook ads and promotions, these are two great cost effective ways of reaching people.

If you aren’t sure how to engage with people through email marketing or with Adwords, why not come along to one of our workshops and learn for yourself? Or speak to us today about giving your online presence an overhaul.






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