Facebook is facing criticism over how social media user’s data, was used by Cambridge Analytica to influence voting in the 2016 presidential election.
US-headquartered Cambridge Analytica uses data to change the behaviour of internet users. The company accessed user’s information to create profiles on American voters. Cambridge Analytica was hired by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team and the data used helped him to win the election in 2016.
In 2014, Dr Aleksandr Kogan worked for Cambridge Analytica and created an app called “This is Your Digital Life”. The app was a personality survey and was aimed to model human behaviour through social media. Around 270,000 users’ data was collected, however, the app also gathered public data from users’ friends as well.
Kogan had no knowledge that the data he found would be used as part of Donald Trump’s election campaign.
Facebook have announced that Dr Kogan has violated the company’s policies. Dr Kogan is shocked by the allegations made against him.
“We were assured by Cambridge Analytica that everything was perfectly legal and within the terms of service” he said.
He believes he’s been made a “scapegoat” for Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Kogan also feels as if he has been treated unfairly by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, revealed that more than 50 million user’s data has been harvested without their explicit consent for the analysis firm. The 28 year-old worker helped Dr Kogan to obtain individual’s data back in 2014. Like Kogan, Wylie was unaware that the data gathered would be used as part of Trump’s election campaign.
Since Wylie has disclosed the wrongdoing, Facebook have suspended his account.
Cambridge Analytica have stated Christopher Wylie has been “misrepresenting himself and the company” in the comments he’s made to the media.
Mark Zuckerberg has since apologised for how Facebook has handled the data belonging to 50 million users’. He has reassured users that stricter steps will be taken to prevent developers from accessing such personal information.
A whistleblower is an individual who reports a wrongdoing they have witnessed during work. The wrongdoing disclosed must affect others. A whistleblower is protected by the law therefore they shouldn’t lose their job or receive unfair treatment for exposing the wrongdoing.
A whistleblower is protected by the law if they report:
This proves that Christopher Wylie should be protected by the law. The complaint he disclosed was in the interest of the public as their data was wrongfully mishandled. Wylie shouldn’t have received unfair treatment from Cambridge Analytica or Facebook.
“I didn’t set out to attack Facebook. Facebook has just been incredibly uncooperative” stated Wylie. “It hasn’t respected the role of the media and scrutiny and embraced this scrutiny and worked to improve itself”.
Also, Cambridge Analytica shouldn’t have treated Wylie unfairly by stating he has misrepresented himself and the company in comments he’s made to the media. He was exposing a wrongdoing and therefore shouldn’t be punished because of it.
If you need advice or guidance on whistleblowing, please contact a member of the HPC team:
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