The personal information of over 50million individuals was improperly used by data analytics experts Cambridge Analytica to build a system that could profile voters and target them with political messages during the US elections. In a post today Zuckerberg acknowledges that Facebook made mistakes and promised to act to fix the problem. He admitted “we have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t do that we don’t deserve to serve you.
The Information Commissioner’s Office is currently applying for a warrant to allow them access to Cambridge Analytica’s servers and has ordered Facebook’s own auditors to stand down from their investigations. Elizabeth Dehham, the Information Commissioner told Channel 4 news “…we need to look at databases, we need to look at servers, and understand how data was processed or deleted by Cambridge Analytica. There are a lot of conflicting stories about the data.”
Alexsandr Kogan created an app called ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ which gathered user’s data using psychological tests. This data was allegedly passed on to Cambridge Analytica who developed their data mining software with it. Christopher Wylie, a whistle-blower for the company, regretfully told the Observer how “…we exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.”
Meanwhile, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web took to Twitter today to offer Zuckerberg some sound advice “I can imagine Mark Zuckerberg is devastated that his invention has been abused and misused…I would say to him: You can fix it. It won’t be easy but if companies work with governments, activists, academics and web users we can make sure platforms serve humanity.”
He also offers this wisdom to everyone – and with the shadow of GDPR looming it is very sage; “General rules for us all: Any data about me, wherever it is, is mine and mine alone to control. If you are given that data for one purpose, use it for that purpose alone.”