Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg could have prevented the Cambridge Analytica scandal and all subsequent matters that have led to users doubting the privacy and security of their data, had he not signed off on a business decision in 2012, according to internal emails. He had initially questioned the proposal to share Facebook user data with outside software developers, but eventually agreed to the decision. This eventually made it possible for outside apps to gather data along the lines of the quiz app that provided data to Cambridge Analytica.
That scandal, which caused waves across the US and Europe, came about when analytics firm Cambridge Analytica was pulled up for illegally harvesting user data that was then used to target ads to users. The firm is known to have worked with the Donald Trump Presidency campaign, and it is suggested that the data contributed to Trump’s win in the 2016 election. Mark Zuckerberg has expressed regret at not taking action against the practice of sharing user data with outside apps soon enough, which would have prevented the scandal in the first place.
The emails that have provided this information were obtained by a British Government investigation panel that is probing Facebook for other violations of data privacy, and show that Zuckerberg had questioned whether this data being shared was benefiting Facebook properly. These decisions were initially taken to improve engagement and increase the usability of the platform back in its early years, by adding apps and games onto the Facebook platform to improve the time spent by users and make activities that could be shared with connections.
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While Facebook has taken significant steps to improve data privacy after the emerging of the scandal, many fear the damage has already been done. And although Facebook’s reputation has taken a hit, it doesn’t seem to be affecting platform usage by very much, as most users remain on Facebook despite the known threats to privacy.