British data firm Cambridge Analytica and global social media giant Facebook have been locked in a public row over data protection in recent weeks. Here we answer some questions you may have:
What is Data Protection?
When carrying out transactions (both online and offline), people usually need to submit personal information such as their name, address, phone number or credit card details.
When they do this, the information is supposed to be stored away by the business or website they have visited. Most people expect this is be stored safely away and only used by the company they have done business with. This protecting of information is known as data protection.
Who are Cambridge Analytica?
Cambridge Analytica is a UK company that provides useful information (data) to clients, such as companies or, in the case of this scandal, political parties.
For example, politicians might like to know what voters from a specific area think about a certain issue. If they find out that the environment, for example, is important to that community, they could use this information to help win votes.
In 2014, Cambridge Analytica got access to 50 million Facebook users’ information, thanks to an app that deceived the FB users. This app came in the form of a quiz called: ‘This is Your Digital Life’.
When people answered the questions, their information (data) was forwarded to Cambridge Analytica. But, not only did this information get passed on, the app also collected information from the FB friends of the quiz takers. However, Cambridge Analytica claims it did not know that the app developer had broken any data protection rules to get this information and that it deleted it once it discovered this.
Some experts believe that Cambridge Analytica then sold this information to the Donald Trump Electoral campaign and helped influence the election results.
What does this mean for you?
Many people now believe that no matter what a website or social media platform says about your data, it’s never completely safe. Others argue that once you set up a social media account, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram, you are exposing your personal information to all kinds of misuse.
Meanwhile, Facebook is planning on investigating what went on though that will have to wait until official authorities in both the UK and the US have carried out their own investigations.