Dark clouds are hovering over Facebook, and their stocks are falling. Now, various American and European federal bodies have started asking how a voter-profiling company managed to get hold of the data of 50 million users.
Per a press release on Tuesday, the state of New York has followed the footsteps of Massachusetts that announced an investigation last weekend. As a part of a joint investigation, they have sent a demand letter to Facebook “to get to the bottom of what happened.”
“Consumers have a right to know how their information is used – and companies like Facebook have a fundamental responsibility to protect their users’ personal information,” said New York’s Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
New Jersey is another American state to trigger an investigation over the Facebook data breach. “I am particularly troubled by reports that Facebook may have allowed Cambridge to harvest and monetize its users’ private data, despite Facebook’s promises to keep that information secure,” said the attorney general Gurbir S. Grewal.
A Bloomberg report suggests that Facebook’s data sharing with Cambridge Analytica may have violated the 2011 FTC consent decree. Its sources claim that FTC is probing whether Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest data without users’ knowledge. If Facebook is found to have violated the decree, the company could be fined $40,000 per violation.
It’s not only in the US, but Facebook is also facing transatlantic pressure as well. The UK parliament wrote a request for oral evidence to Mark Zuckerberg and demanded a “senior Facebook executive” (Zuckerberg himself) to give “an accurate account of this catastrophic failure.” The European Parliament has also asked Zuckerberg to make an appearance.
While some concrete response is yet to arrive, Facebook said in a statement that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are “working around the clock” to get the matter.
Over the years of its existence, from a simple social network, Facebook turned into a company that controls the lives of around 2 billion users. Facebook provides people a platform to connect with their friends (and remember their birthday) — only after they give all of their information.
Many won’t mind sharing their data unless a company’s greed puts it in the hands of some opportunist. Also, be it the spread of fake news or Russia’s involvement in the US presidential elections, Facebook is at the center of it facing flak. It’s yet to be confirmed if Facebook is at fault in the Cambridge Analytica case or not.
It’s not just about Facebook. The incapacity to protect the massive amounts of data companies collect is enough motivation for the governments to take action. Though they have their own surveillance efforts that go round the clock, they don’t waste much time tying companies’ hands in legal handcuffs (not a bad thing in any case). Anyway, it’s the high-level politics which is beyond the understanding of the general population.
So, what’s the possible way out? Should we follow what’s trending on the internet, take some time to sit back and think, and delete facebook once and for all?