It’s Not a Data Breach. It’s Big Data in the Hands of Silicon Valley.

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Facebook’s time in the spotlight has been trying for them. As stock value drops and class action suits begin, it’s clear that the Cambridge Analytica & Facebook debacle has escalated. The word being used to describe this mess: “a data breach.” The reality is that Facebook has not been hacked and information was not stolen. Facebook & Cambridge Analytica has shown that with big data comes big responsibility.

Here’s the gist of what’s going on: Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that worked for President Trump’s campaign, allegedly obtained information on 50 million Facebook users without their permission.

While Cambridge Analytica did violate Facebook’s Privacy Policy when handling data, these users gave permission without realizing it. Everyday, users are agreeing to terms & conditions they never read and giving third party apps permissions they weren’t aware of by just pressing “Continue” or “I accept.” While they are legally protecting themselves, they’re showing 20 paragraphs full of legal jargon that no one has the time to read. So they simply accept because they just want to get the sign up over with.

It’s important to note that Cambridge Analytica isn’t the first to take data from Facebook to research how people are interacting on the platform, obtain their personal information, and see likes & dislikes. Big data has allowed insights into habits we could never understand and information we had no way of obtaining until now. The rise of tech and social media have allowed marketers to see what their customers are doing and what steps prospective buyers may be taking. But what has happened with Facebook shows the problem with Silicon Valley and big data. People passively accept without paying attention to how their data is being used. So while they are agreeing, they don’t know the gravity of what they’re consenting too.

It’s hard to know what you’re consenting if you don’t know why exactly you’re giving consent.


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