The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal involves the collection of personally identifiable information of up to 87 million Facebook users that Cambridge Analytica began collecting in 2014. The data was used to influence voter opinion on behalf of politicians who hire them. Following the breach, Facebook apologized and experienced public outcry and raised stock prices, calling the way that Cambridge Analytica collected the data “inappropriate.”
In December 2015, The Guardian reported that United States politician Ted Cruz was using data from this breach and that the subjects of the data were unaware that companies were selling and politicians were buying their personal information. In March 2018, The New York Times, The Guardian and Channel 4 News made more detailed reports on the data breach with new information from former Cambridge Analytica employee turned whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who provided clearer information about the size of the data breach, the nature of the personal information stolen, and communication among Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and political representatives who hired Cambridge Analytica to use the data to influence voter opinion.
The breach was significant for inciting public discussion on ethical standards for social media companies, political consulting organizations, and politicians. Consumer advocates called for greater consumer protection in online media and right to privacy as well as curbs on misinformation and propaganda.
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