Lucy
Mar 26, 2018

In Facebook We Trust

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This week Facebook has been brought to its knees, thanks to the revelations concerning its relationship with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to access the personal information of over 50 million users on its site. This data was used to create targeted ads and propaganda that aided the Trump presidential campaign back in 2016. Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has grovelled and apologised to the public, saying he was "really sorry this happened" and "it was a mistake". But this "mistake" is not just a breach in millions of peoples privacy; it is a signal to the public of the increasing value of data. Last year The Economist published an article claiming that "data is the new oil", describing the growing worth of data for the giants of media and technology- Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google. These companies have access to billions of peoples' personal information- information that is now being turned into a commodity. Advertising companies are willing to pay extraordinarily high prices for the chance to bombard consumers with highly targeted ads. Holding the data of billions of consumers also gives these companies the advantage over their competition. The companies can see what consumers search for, what they share and what they buy. The companies have an unrivaled network telling them what consumers want, enabling them to be the first to meet consumer demand. Facebook's slip up should be a wake up call to the world. A few companies now hold the data of most of the world's population- and that has become a dangerous commodity.

https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21721656-data-economy-demands-new-approach-antitrust-rules-worlds-most-valuable-resource

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