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Cambridge Analytica raises concern

Written by Mark Evans
19/03/2018

Cynics might say ‘really’ but it has come as a surprise to some that social media companies aren’t always paragons of virtue. Combine this with the amazing revelations that political parties try to influence the voters and you have the current row over Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data.

Facebooks shares took a battering, politicians from both sides of the Atlantic got righteously angry, and the Prime Minister asked for an investigation by the Information Commissioner, all triggered by a whistleblower reporting that Cambridge Analytica had harvested Facebook profiles to potentially help influence voters in both the American elections and Brexit.

That Cambridge Analytica were paid by Trump is a matter of federal record (in fact they were paid $6.2m, according to election commission records) but it is the denial of using any Facebook data that have led to suspicions that the company may have misled a parliamentary enquiry last month.

The odd thing is that row centres on the breach of data, rather than the techniques or use, if Facebook had provided the services themselves then it is unclear exactly what would be legally at fault – if morally the answer is clear.

Indeed it is not even clear what constitutes a breach, as the information gathered by Cambridge Analytica appears to have been freely given by Facebook users via an App.

So much really is about the exact wording and policies at Facebook – most of which nobody actually reads.