There has been a lot of chatter surrounding the misuse of data harvested by Cambridge Analytica. Justifiable outrage has spawned a "delete" campaign surrounding Facebook, and their app(s). However, is that the right response?
As the Guardian article points out, it's been clear to many how Facebook makes money - it uses your personal data to sell a targeted advertising engine. That engine allows advertisers to influence behavior. Whether the advertiser is trying to influence buying or voting behavior, data allows that influence to be more targeted and effective. It's also important to understand that nearly every web-based service - app-based or browser based - uses a similar approach to gather individual data and use that data to influence behavior.
This begs the question: is deleting Facebook the right move? Does the latest controversy simply point to a broader concern regarding the approach to gathering, governing, and using personal data? Should this be, instead, a wake up call to develop better data stewardship?
The EU has General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which "was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy." This regulatory approach, ultimately, may be a better vehicle to govern what, how, and when personal data is used. Even if governments don't more broadly intervene globally, perhaps the data prescription that GDPR represents could be employed by private organizations as a guide and avoid further data leaks.
As a global organization, Hitachi Consulting has had a lot of experience helping organizations develop rational and responsible data governance. We've recently hosted sessions on GDPR and are well positioned to help our clients navigate this kind of data stewardship complexity.
The Cambridge Analytica revelations may be the final nudge we need to turn away from the social network. And it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to big tech harvesting private information