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Why are people looking to delete Facebook?

20th March 2018

Facebook isn’t a stranger to the press and has recently faced accusations of privacy breaches by giving away user information to third parties. In the past, people have claimed the app is listening in to conversations, as well as storing an overwhelming amount of data on its users and even people who aren’t signed up to the service.

Over the last few days, however, #deletefacebook has become a trending hashtag and popular news story after it was revealed a data firm known as Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to illegitimately harvest over 50 million users’ profiles. It is said that this information was used politically in order to target voters during Trump’s presidential campaign and the Brexit Leave Campaign.

#deletefacebook

According to Business Insider, the personal information that Cambridge Analytica collected was used to compile psychographic profiles of users analysing a variety of traits and characteristics such as IQ, gender, age, political views and religion. The article continues:” It also evaluated people's "sensational interests," which were divided into five categories:

  • "Militarism" — guns and shooting, martial arts, crossbows, and knives
  • "Violent occultism" — drugs, black magic, paganism
  • "Intellectual activities" — singing and making music, foreign travel, the environment
  • "Credulousness" — the paranormal, flying saucers
  • "Wholesome interests" — camping, gardening, hill-walking

This information was gathered through a personality predication app called ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ which paid users to download and take the app’s personality quiz providing they agreed to share their personal details through Facebook. The app was created by Aleksandr Kogan, a professor at Cambridge University, and Cambridge Analytica who together paid roughly 270,000 people to download the app, however, the app not only compiled information on the paid users but their online ‘friends’ as well, amounting to an estimated 50 million profiles.

Kogan told Facebook the conception of the app was to gather information for academic purposes and did not reveal that the information gathered would be handed over to Cambridge Analytica to be used in political campaigns.

In a statement, Facebook has said: “Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do, and we require the same from people who operate apps on Facebook. [Kogan] lied to us and violated our Platform Policies by passing data from an app that was using Facebook Login to SCL/Cambridge Analytica, a firm that does political, government and military work around the globe.” Although many people are seeing this as another breach of trust between Facebook and its users and are calling for a total boycott of the service.

If you are interested in data protection and privacy law, then you can start looking for legal recruitment and get involved in the conversation.