The 2016 Presidential elections in the U.S. have been marred by the outside interference. Attempts to influence the outcome were made. As a result, Donald Trump took over the White House by defeating Hillary Clinton. But the investigation showed social media has been utilized to spread fake news and influence voters into voting in favor of Trump. The investigation of Russian interference is ongoing. Facebook was one of the major social media platforms used to carry out meddling. Recently, it was found that the U.K.-based political advertising firm Cambridge Analytica gained personal information of millions of users and used it to help Donald Trump win the elections.
After the finding came into light, many questions were raised on Facebook’s data safety and shares took the deepest plunge since 2015. The U.S. and European officials have sought answers from the social media firm about how the U.K. based firm was able to gain information and harvest it to influence the outcome. Politicians of both countries have asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before court and explain the data misuse. Though Facebook has testified before the court on Russian meddling in 2016 Presidential elections, Mark Zuckerberg has never faced lawmakers. This pressure has pushed the social media platform to implement stricter regulations.
The U.S. senators have asked the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to make CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet come forward for public questioning. In a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley, John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, and Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota outlined that there are serious concerns regarding the safety of data of Americans. In case of Facebook, the data was mishandled and misused to influence the voters. The insights on how data is stored and how political advertisings are sold on the platform need to be given. Else, it raises question marks on integrity of American elections and privacy rights.
On Friday, Facebook explained that a professor asked users to log in through Facebook for personality-analysis app, which was designed for educational purposes. Nearly, 270,000 people allowed the app to access their data through Facebook. The permission enabled app to collect data on the users and their friends. This exposed the app to a network of 50 million people. This access is allowed as per the terms of Facebook. But the professor violated the terms by handing over the data to Cambridge Analytica, from where it was misused. When the social media firm found about this, it blocked the access of professor and asked Cambridge Analytica to give certification, stating that it erased all the data. Later, Facebook found out the information was not deleted.
Facebook shares took a dive by 8.1 percent to $170.06 on Monday. This dive wiped all the earnings of this year so far and marked the lowest point since 2015. The next few weeks will be critical for Facebook as it needs to build trust among users that its platform is secure and content standards and rules have been set to ensure political advertising will not be influence mindset of people. The social media platform needs to make changes in business models about advertising and news feeds in next 12 to 15 months. Moreover, it needs to give an explanation over mishandling of user data.