Opinion: is the facebook scandal really that big of a deal?

Frenik Labs' Blog: Social Media Marketing Insights

Spectators around the world have watched Facebook struggle to work its way out its most recent scandal. Less than two weeks ago, Facebook revealed that millions of users’ data was accessed via a third party data-mining firm. Users are noticeably perturbed over this data collection and founder Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress on April 11th. This isn’t the first instance in which a social media platform has violated users’ trust. However, this incident has stirred such a large controversy because the data mining firm that collected user information has been tied to a potential influence on the most recent U.S. presidential elections. Will this data scandal calm down? Or, is Facebook bound to suffer a hard hit from the U.S. legal system?

Significant impact, sparks widespread concerns.

According to The Washington Post, Facebook revealed that up to 87 million users had their data accessed as part of the Cambridge Analytica Scandal.


So, What Exactly Happened?

According to The Washington Post, Facebook revealed that up to 87 million users had their data accessed as part of the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. For those who don’t know, Cambridge Alalytica is a consulting firm that provides data mining, brokerage and analysis for electoral strategies. The company has been accused of using illegal or unfair means to acquire data from Facebook users in an attempt to influence the elections. An initial report stated that 50 million users’ data was accessed, but it was soon revealed that, instead, almost 90 million users’ data was compromised. This sharp increase has become a point of debate, anger and mistrust towards Facebook.


The same article from The Washington Post stated that users whose data was shared with Cambridge Analytica were informed this past Monday. All Facebook users will now be able to view on their feeds which apps they use and what information is being linked and shared on those apps. Users will have the opportunity to delete apps they no longer want their information shared with. Facebook has also changed its privacy policy to better explain what data it collects from its users but has not changed what it collects. This information could include call logs, contact info or text history.

Is It Really That Big of a Deal?

Any unknowing or unwilling share or collection of personal information is always serious. Some critics argue that this collected information could lead to deaths, which may be a bit extreme. We have to remember that this is not the first time people’s information has been involuntarily shared with a third-party. In 2013, $3 billion Yahoo users’ data was compromised. In 2016, the personal info of 57 million Uber users and 600,000 drivers was exposed.


In all instances of a data breach or compromise, including Facebook’s most recent scandal, reputation and monetary value for the companies involved are impacted. Shareholders have pulled out of Facebook. Users are deleting their accounts. But, as seen with most privacy scandals AND the use of tactful PR, people tend to forget as long no significantly noticeable harm was inflicted upon users. Once the issue dies down and the company involved shows effort to fix the problem or prevent similar problems in the future, audience members eventually return to using the company’s services, if they ever even stopped to begin with.

Will Facebook Make It Through the Storm?




The answer to the above question is yet to be determined. While most privacy scandals involving a social media giant don’t usually result in the downfall of the company, this recent issue has seen other tech giants berate Facebook and Zuckerberg alike for their deception of users. An article published by Varietyhighlighted Apple CEO Tim Cook’s reaction to the privacy controversy, stating privacy is a “human right” and he (Apple) “wouldn’t be in this situation.” Tesla founder Elon Musk has deleted the Facebook pages for both Tesla and SpaceX after being challenged on Twitter by users @serdarsprofile and @Bryson_M. Although it’s unclear what the future has in store for Facebook, and it’s apparent that the platform will suffer immense monetary damage. However, it’s highly probably that Facebook, being the first social media platform of its kind, will survive this privacy scandal. At least, this time.