I have pondered this over the last week or so, but who is to blame for the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica debacle?
We might all be ready to blame Mark Zuckerberg for the fact that Facebook has used its resources to evolve data metrics that can be used by them and others to exploit us, but what they have had access to has been clear to us all for a long time. The reality is that we have all been in denial about what Facebook have been doing.
For several years, we have marvelled at the way the internet has been able to respond to our every need. Search for something anywhere online and close the browser, come back and websites would respond with adverts of what you searched for. The marvel of the cookie. But that has evolved with how we use Facebook.
Facebook has built a profile of information about us all. Anyone that has had the opportunity to use Facebook for advertising cannot help but be stunned by the myriad of options you can select from when advertising. Multiple demographics, personal situation options from income, employment type, job title, interests from hobbies, reading material, political associations and so on. The choices are nearly unlimited.
Given the need to satisfy its shareholders, selling this data was a bit of a no-brainer because what other asset did Facebook have to monetise its business?
When you sign up to Facebook, its there for all to see. It might be buried in the small print, but what they have access too is visible. Then there is the fact that they allowed outside companies to access and retain the same data. It could be said that this is where Facebook has come unstuck. Seriously unstuck.
The Facebook mindset has always been to move fast and break things. In a computer engineering space that’s fine. What happens if the button is lighter shade of blue over a darker shade. Great, Engineer away. But the same footloose approach cannot be applied to the management of data. Why not?
Actions have consequences.
The world is a seamless stream of decisions that lead to actions that have an outcome. The great thinkers of the world suggest a value to ‘second-order thinking’. If I do this, what could happen? What are the outcomes and what are the effects of the outcome?
Move fast & break things doesn’t seem to have room for second-order thinking.
However, I would argue that we are all responsible for the consequences of the Cambridge Analytica mess. We can all undertake second order thinking and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the consequences of access to data like this.
That’s a bold claim on my part, but we all have responsibility for the actions we have, or haven’t taken and the effect they will have on the future.
Do you think I am wrong? Let me know…