Design For Online Ltd comments on Cambridge Analytica and the growing need for more transparency from Facebook and also more ethical advertising standards.

Everyone is now more than aware of Cambridge Analytica which is currently making the rounds on every news platform imaginable. Channel 4 recently released video and exposed Cambridge Analytica as “The undercover secrets of Trumps data firm”.

How did this all start?

Aleksandr Koga, a Moldovan researcher from Cambridge University, admitted to harvesting personal details of 30 million users via personality app.  He then passed the data on to firms such as Cambridge Analytica who assured him this was legal, albeit at the time, Facebook reportedly told companies in possession of this data to delete it.

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie, told the Observer data was used to influence the outcome of the US election. Whilst Cambridge Analytica denies this claim, he goes on to say that “we spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles”

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica and Koga, however Koga is being treated much like a scapegoat.  Koga thought they were doing something that was normal and acting perfectly appropriately.

See below for the interview from whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

Christopher goes on to say that Cambridge Analytica is a full service propaganda machine. I would watch this video, it is very interesting to watch.

What is our opinion & how do we use social media advertising?

Lots of people don’t know the level of targeting when it comes to social-media advertising.  Facebook gives you a tool that allows you to focus your ad to reach your target customer, such as location, the age, male or female, their interests, job title & also relationship status.

We use adverts take advantage of these tools to target specific audiences such as reaching a specific age range and within a location who are more likely to purchase one of their products. Although we never come into contact with the data itself, nor get to see who specifically views the add.  You get a sense of the amount of data Facebook has and when in the wrong hands can be given to manipulate large amounts of people.

We use non intrusive Facebook approved ad targeting campaigns to ensure we reach only the intended audience for your advert, not spamming other users and also ensuring that we do not spam the intended consumer of the advert.  We also do not harvest nor come into contact with any of the data that Facebook obtains from its users.  Whistleblower Christopher also explains that they were able to harvest things such as status updates, likes and scarily private messages.

Summary

I think there is a need within these organisations to be more transparent, but also to impose further restrictions on these huge data analytics firms.  They need to say how they get their data, what data they have and how they are using this. The data they have should not have been able to be harvested in the first place.

Here is a sample of the channel 4 expose, full article here