Facebook users react to data harvesting mishap

Tess Hemmila–Staff Writer

In a time when everyone under the age of 30 is on social media, what does it mean to be unable to trust social media platforms? This is the question many people are asking after Facebook has been exposed for leaking the data of their users to Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica is a political consulting firm that is thought to have mined the data of multiple millions of Facebook users in the hope of targeting ads to specific users.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a public statement in March concerning Cambridge Analytica’s data harvesting. Zuckerberg said that, because he started Facebook and is the CEO of the company, he is “responsible for what happens on our platform.”

On April 10, Zuckerberg testified before Senate about the company’s misuse of data. Zuckerberg defended the company but also acknowledged that Facebook had made mistakes. He provided answers on most topics, but was unable to provide satisfactory answers as to why Cambridge Analytica had possession of Facebook users’ data.

According to recent estimates by Facebook, the data of over 87 million users may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica. This massive breach has shared the data of many Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.

According to CBS News, the data was harvested through a downloadable quiz into which users could input their Facebook information to log into an account. By using this data, Cambridge Analytica was were then able to target ads to U.S. citizens by matching their personality traits.

Many college students hold social media accounts, a vast number of which are on the Facebook platform. While there are privacy settings on Facebook, it is possible that they did not prevent the data of some Dordt students from being shared.

Sophomore computer science student Ben Bouwkamp said he hopes people will start to distrust social media after all the media attention Facebook has been receiving.

“As much as we want to believe in a company built on integrity, that is not the case,” Bouwkamp said. “In the end, Facebook is a business and they were trying to make easy money by sharing information they already had.”

Sophomore computer science major Cody Meiners said people should already be skeptical of any free service because it will have to be funded somehow.

“The biggest thing that people need to know is that their data is already out there,” Meiners said. “In this day and age, everything that is a public record is already online somewhere.”

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