The Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal changed many things, but some observers say even though Facebook was at the root of the scandal, the social media giant failed to change.
Although it Mark Zuckerberg five days to respond after the scandal broke, the founder and CEO of Facebook promised to make major changes to secure the data of its users. He told the public during his meeting with Congress: “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.”
“The basic facts had already been reported, in the same publication, 16 months previously: Facebook had allowed someone to extract vast amounts of private information about vast numbers of people from its system, and that entity had passed the data along to someone else, who had used it for political ends,” The Guardian reported.
The company made several promises to protect users.
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On 19 March 2018, Facebook announced it was looking into having a forensic audit of Cambridge Analytica and other parties involved in the data misuse. This has yet to happen as a Facebook spokeswoman explained this March that the company was still waiting for approval from the ICO to do the audit.
Also in March 2018, Zuckerberg promised that Facebook would investigate “all apps that had access to large amounts of information.” And for a while, up until August 2018, Facebook did release regular updates on this investigation when it said in blogpost that it had investigated thousands of third-party apps and suspended “more than 400.” “Seven months later, a spokeswoman said that the investigation was continuing, but provided the same numbers: thousands investigated, more than 400 banned,” the Guardian reported.
Then in May 2018, Facebook promised to create a “clear history” tool that would let users to force Facebook to delete all the browsing information it gathers from users. This is has yet to happen.
So very little has progressed since Facebook claimed it was “woke” to privacy issues.
“While it appears that Facebook is suddenly ‘woke’ to privacy issues, it’s safe to assume it’s business as usual there,” said Ashkan Soltani, a former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission.
“They keep actually putting growth and profits above designing a platform that’s predicated on the needs of its users,” said Lindsey Barrett, a teaching fellow and staff attorney at Georgetown’s Communications and Technology Clinic. As an example, Barrett pointed out Facebook’s insistence on using phone numbers that users provided for security reasons for non-security purposes.