This is one of the few times we don’t envy being The Zuck. Last week, Facebook lost over $60 billion in market value. That’s more than Tesla’s entire market cap. Unless you’ve been on a digital vacation, you probably know that’s because the word got out that the personal data of over 50 million users (and counting) was taken and used by a British data firm Cambridge Analytica. A company that according to some, helped Donald Trump win the election.
The story broke when a 28-year old data scientist, Chris Wylie, blew the whistle on the social media giant, telling how poorly it handled people’s personal information. So how does the info get collected? Well, you know those annoying quizzes that pop up on your Facebook feed? “How will you look in your 80’s?” or “which celebrity do you look like?” Yup, those ones. And a lot more just like them. Once they gain access to your FB profile, just think of them as giant data harvesting machines.
Over the past few days people have been downloading copies of all the data Facebook has collected about them over the years and it’s fairly astonishing to say the least. Everything from your personal contacts list and your entire ‘friend’ history to every post you ever made and even your Android cell phone call history. So, not only did they lose a lot of market value, people in droves are deleting their Facebook accounts for perceived privacy issues.
As you can imagine, this caused a PR whirlwind for Facebook, ultimately leading Mark Zuckerberg to sitting for a rare interview and even a full-page apology letter in some of the nation’s leading newspapers.