Large-scale data scandals are nothing new, especially for Facebook. But the Cambridge Analytica case, in particular, started an important, far-reaching conversation about the future of the internet that none could have seen coming.
To put it simply, an organization called Cambridge Analytica, which has too many international political ties to even attempt to name, created a fake personality quiz on Facebook. Using the information gathered, the organization hijacked the platform to harvest data points for up to 87 million profiles. Using this data, the organization then instructed political campaigns all around the world, most notably with the 2017 U.S. presidential election and the U.K. Brexit campaigns. All of a sudden, social media wasn’t just cat pictures.
More importantly, the scandal opened a new dialogue around social media that expanded to issues of freedom of speech, censorship, news, journalism, and even the nature of democracy in the age of the internet.
The immediate effects have been clear: More attention to third-party applications, login credentials, and data access. The larger issues of social media, privacy, and what we want the future of the internet to be, have only begun to be discussed. Five years from now, the internet might look pretty different and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal just may have been one of the more significant turning points in that change.
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