Back in 2015, when Android users downloaded the App for Facebook or Facebook Lite, they would be asked a question- If they would like to sync their contacts with the App in order to find their friends easier. However, they never stated that they would use this information to track your call logs, which it was later revealed that they did. This information was revealed in late March, the same day that Mark Zuckerberg took out ads to publicly apologize for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Since then Facebook has been weathering the storm from both of these revelations that have reached millions of people’s personal data security.
In the first scandal, Facebook leaked the information of 87 million users to the research firm, Cambridge Analytica. The information was linked to a paid psychological test taken by downloading a quiz app through Facebook of which only 270,000 users willingly downloaded. However, the affected people reached the 87 million because data was taken from other users who were simply “friends” with the users who downloaded the psychological quiz. It is not known how Cambridge Analytica was able to get the information of the friends of the users. It was later reported that the Trump Campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $6 million during the election year. Facebook followed this scandal by assuring users that they would be making a greater effort to shield a person’s privacy by limiting the information that third-party accounts would receive in the future.
Following, this scandal the Ars Technica website revealed that Android users had checked the data that Facebook had gathered from them over the years and found out that Facebook had kept actual text message content, telephone call lengths, phone numbers, and names of their contacts in a data log. Facebook claimed that they simply use this data to improve the Facebook experience and that using this data helps people connect with others. An example of how they “improved” Facebook’s experience was by categorizing the contacts you see first when using the messenger feature. Basically, the people who you converse with most would be found at the top of your Facebook contacts when using the messenger feature.
Facebook reps also defended the site by saying that the data that was collected from this application asked users beforehand to “opt-in” to share their data with the company for research purposes. Several users who found out that years of their contact data and phone records had been collected did not remember choosing to “opt-in.” This was because the opt-in was a default mode when installing and only if users went through the settings of the app to correct it, their data would automatically be shared. Although later Facebook began asking permission of the users before automatically storing their data, they did not outright tell the user what data they would be collecting and how they would be using it. They simply said sharing your data would help you find your friends easier.
Many users were confused by the way Facebook had said they would use their data. There was no mention of Facebook collecting call logs and text messages, so users were understandably shocked when they downloaded their Facebook data to find the call logs. Since this news came in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, this breach of data has a larger meaning. Although Facebook tried to placate users by letting them know they can change all of the data that is being shared in their settings, we now know that the information contained by Facebook is vulnerable to being shared with their affiliates. Facebook representatives continue to claim that their networks are secure and the data can’t be shared, which is a bizarre claim to make immediately after they publicly apologized for that exact situation happening. The company has since suffered a 14% drop in stocks since the news broke about Cambria.
Some companies have pulled back the amount of money spent on Facebook ads, but analysts do not believe this will have a long-term effect. They believe that most companies will return to Facebook once the backlash is over. Facebook is still a social media giant and boasts the most users out of all social media platforms. It has nearly three times as many users as Instagram, and even their second app, Facebook Messenger, boasts 1.3 billion users to the 800 million on Instagram. Twitter falls behind both Instagram and Facebook with 330 million active users. The social network that is closest to Facebook is YouTube with 1.5 billion active users to Facebook’s 2.1 billion.
The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, took out several ads in the UK and America to apologize for the Cambridge Analytica data leak, but many people were not satisfied with this apology and decided to leave Facebook altogether fearing that their information is not safe. A slew of celebrities made a public break from the company, including Will Ferrell, Cher, and Elon Musk. Will Ferrell posted his farewell to Facebook on his Facebook page which he left up for a few days before actual deletion so the news could travel to his fans. He cited multiple reasons for leaving the site. He stated that Facebook misusing information of users undermines democracy itself, and he couldn’t “in good conscience” use the site anymore because of Facebook’s involvement in “the spread of propaganda” to the “most vulnerable” Americans.
Cher chose Twitter as her avenue of announcing her split from the site. She wrote how she appreciated Facebook as a way to help her charities, but ultimately decided to delete her account. Her reasoning behind deleting her page was that she believes there are “more important things than money.” She stressed the point of the tweet in Cher-fashion by using multiple emojis, including the bags of money emoji.
If you’re thinking about permanently deleting your Facebook, there is a catch. While you can delete your Facebook from the present and the future, you can’t delete it from the past. All of the information that Facebook has collected from your presence on the app over the years will remain active for a few months and not everything will get deleted even after that period. The majority of information that the Facebook deleter has posted will be erased eventually, but the posts by friends of this user will remain active until that Facebook user deletes their Facebook account. So unless all of your friends jump on the #DeleteFacebook train, some of your data will remain in the social media giant’s hands.