Facebook's Latest Controversy Could Fundamentally Change the Platform - and Social Media Itself
The biggest social media story of the moment – and maybe ever – is the latest controversy surrounding the misuse of Facebook data by controversial advertising/lobbying group Cambridge Analytica.
To quickly get you up to speed, former Cambridge Analytica staffer Christopher Wylie has come forward with allegations that the company used personal information on American voters, gleaned from Facebook by academic researchers, in order to hyper-target Facebook ads and content which aimed to manipulate people’s psychological leanings to influence the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential Election. The same strategies were reportedly used to shift perception in the UKs Brexit vote.
In many ways, the revelations are not all that surprising – ever since the election of Donald Trump, people have been trying to work out how, exactly, it happened - but the direct linkage between Facebook data and the mass-manipulation of society has raised a whole new set of crucial questions. Political leaders are calling for Facebook to come under more scrutiny, officials are saying the company could be subject to hefty fines and the public, more broadly, is no doubt re-considering the amount of trust they place in the network.
Will that lead to fewer people using Facebook? Will we see Facebook come under more regulatory restrictions? And what, exactly, is the extent of what’s possible with Facebook’s data.
Here’s an overview of the implications.