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Data Misuse Allegations Against Facebook Raises Demand For Investigation And New Regulations

Data Misuse Allegations Against Facebook Raises Demand For Investigation And New Regulations
There have been recent reports that access to about 50 million users’ data starting in 2014 had bene gained by a political consultant which resulted in questions about personal data safeguards being raised from within the Congress along with calls for new regulations for companies like Facebook Inc.
There were media reports that access to the data had been made by Cambridge Analytica, a data company known for its work on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and which is a conservative-leaning and that the data might have been deleted which was later affirmed by Facebook in a blog post.
The largest social media platform in the world has already been under severe criticism for the alleged Soviet use of the platform to meddle in the U.S. Presidential elections in 2016  and these allegations have opened up a new front against Facebook.
“It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves,” Democratic US Senator Amy Klobuchar tweeted.
“They say ‘trust us.’ Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary,” she added, referring to Facebook’s CEO and a committee she sits on.
The policies of the company were abused by researchers and Cambridge Analytica even as they lied to the company which was the root of the problem according to the statement from Facebook. However, the social media platform was blamed too by critics who called for new regulations while demanding answers on behalf of users.
But since the users gave permission, therefore the data can be said to have been misused and not stolen, Facebook said. this in turn initiated a debate over what made up a hacking and the need for making that clear to the users.
“The lid is being opened on the black box of Facebook’s data practices, and the picture is not pretty,” said Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor who has written about Silicon Valley’s use of data.
The central issue that people had misused the data in a wrongful manner that was contrary to the expectations of users was masqueraded by the response from Facebook which said that technically, the data cannot be said to have been stolen, Pasquale said.
“It amazes me that they are trying to make this about nomenclature. I guess that’s all they have left,” he said.
While terming the internet advertising industry as the “Wild West”, calls for the need of new regulations on the issue were made by Democratic US Senator Mark Warner.
“Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads, or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency,” he said.
A researcher had been allowed to make use of the data of about 270,000 users by the users themselves who in turn also made use of the personal data of the friends of the users as well and this policy had been allowed by Facebook till 2015. Media reports claimed that the data was sold to Cambridge by the researcher in contravention to the rules of Facebook.
Trump’s 2016 campaign was helped by Cambridge Analytica. But for its voter information, Republican data sources and not Cambridge Analytica was used by it, said a Trump campaign official.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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