The tech sector had better watch out. The regulators finally have the excuse to tighten regulation of an industry that has largely been allowed to run amok with personal data. Facebooks problems open the door to investigation and heavier regulation in the future.
The Facebook scandal involves the way in which data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica was allowed to hold and use information from 50 million Facebook users.
The Guardian newspaper reports that Facebook shared 57billion friendships with researchers in 2011. Although the data may have been anonymous, in this case, it only goes to indicate the scope of the data Facebook has accumulated.
The researchers argue that they “clearly stated that the users were granting us access to use their data in broad scope” however I think most users who routinely click the “agree” button rarely read the small print.
We have some sympathy with those that argue that allowing researchers access to Facebook data can enable truly useful research to be conducted. Wired.com report that Stanford economist Raj Chetty and his team are using Facebook data to investigate income inequality in the United States.
Meanwhile, the Facebook debacle has only served to highlight research and opinions on how these social websites are really controlling our minds. At the heart of the current crisis is the idea that by profiling 50 million users Facebook pages a company was able to influence their voting patterns. Francoise Chollet, an artificial intelligence researcher at Google has argued that Facebook even with low key AI is able to influence people’s political views. In an interesting article by Angela Chan in theverge.com the two sides of the argument are laid out, but sufficient to say that there is enough ammunition in the research for the regulators to step in and take a firmer hold of the sector.
This article was attributed and provided by PG International