As a social media agency, we know a thing or two about how powerful social media platforms are and the vast impact they can have when used correctly. We use Facebook on a daily basis creating and sponsoring content for clients, ensuring that it’s being seen by the right people. Take our client, McDonalds, for example. We ran a “McValentines” campaign which reached 200 million. During this campaign, we worked with one of the biggest companies in the world to create content that was creative, engaging and that would positively impact the brand and it’s customers. This is an example of how social media can be used to inform, engage and create conversation – all the things that it should be used for.
Jump to present day and the news that’s made all of the headlines this week – the Cambridge Analytica scandal. News recently broke that the data science firm had allegedly used the data of 50 million Facebook profiles to influence voting choices in the 2016 presidential campaign. It has been claimed that in 2014, Cambridge University academic, Aleksandr Kogan created an app in which users were paid a small amount to take a personality test. Reportedly, the app gathered users’ data, as well as the data of the user’s friends. This information was then said to have been passed onto Cambridge Analytica and used by them to target people based on their personality profiles.
Facebook is also facing a huge backlash, as reports are suggesting that the social media giant may have played a role in the scandal. However, the platform has since responded claiming that Kogan requested and was granted consent by users who chose to sign up to his app, that their data could be used. They have also claimed that back in 2015, they were made aware that Kogan had been passing data onto third parties (such as CA) which violates Facebook’s policies. Facebook demanded that all of the third parties that had received this data had to destroy it.
News stories such as this one are a reminder that social media platforms, i.e. Facebook hold a lot of data and what actually happens to this information and who sees it is not made very clear, raising questions as to how safe are we online.
Facebook is one of the most influential social platforms out there, which means if placed in the wrong hands it can have disastrous consequences. This recent scandal suggests that there is still a long way to go in the way of social media and how these platforms are using our data. It also points to the technology used by Facebook, that detects unprohibited behaviour and whether it is advanced enough to keep up with the amount of content uploaded everyday.
So, what’s next for Facebook?
Facebook have announced on their blog that as of March 17, they have suspended Cambridge Analytica from their platform. The social media platform’s shares have so far dropped by 9.5%, wiping $50 billion off the company’s market value and #DeleteFacebook was yesterday’s trending topic on Twitter. While it seems as if Facebook has some damage control to do right now, it’s hard to say what the future will hold for the platform.