The Australian Information Commissioner is taking Facebook to court over alleged breaches to privacy regarding the Cambridge Analytica Scandal.
The charge is related to a third-party app, This Is Your Digital Life, that allegedly exposed the data of over 300,000 Australian Facebook users without their permission. The app then fed this information to Cambridge Analytica, a notorious political-profiling firm that has since closed in the wake of a massive privacy scandal
The Australian privacy watchdog is well within their rights to take Facebook to court for their negligence, especially since the UK and the US have done so in the past and have won quite sizeable settlements in doing so.
What is most troubling about this case is that while the Commissioner claims 311,127 Australian Facebook users have had their data leaked from the This Is Your Digital Life app, only 53 Australians actually installed it which goes to show the potency of viral marketing – or anti-marketing, as the case may be.
This en-masse exposure was facilitated by Facebook, with a former practice of theirs allowing users of apps to not only sign away their own data, but the data of their Facebook friends.
This type of shady manipulation was common practice for third-party apps, who took advantage of Facebook’s lax attitude to the privacy of their users and hoard a wealth of data from plenty of people who don’t even use their product.
When people use apps on Facebook, or any other platform for that matter, it is of crucial importance that they know exactly what it is that they are signing up for. Just clicking ‘agree’ when confronted with a terms and conditions page is a dangerous game to play and can often lead to unsuspectingly signing away your privacy.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal was one that shook the world. The very idea that this kind of manipulation can happen on such a grand scale by exploiting the sensitive data of people is, frankly, frightening.
Governments around the world must take a stand to make perfectly clear to social media giants like Facebook that this cannot and must not happen again.
We wait with baited breath.
Image from the Satrirical Facebook series on Pinterest.