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Variety – Facebook Under Fire: How Privacy Crisis Could Change Big Data Forever

Variety: “…The scandal in a nutshell: Cambridge Analytica, a U.K.-based political data analytics firm, illicitly procured the data of 50 million Facebook users — without their knowledge or consent — and then enlisted that to inform voter-targeting strategies for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. It wasn’t a hack per se. But both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica claim they were duped by the researcher who originally harvested the data, who used an innocuous-seeming personality quiz in 2013 to access info on friends of people who used the app. That was possible because of Facebook’s then relatively lax privacy protocols. The controversy landed like a Category 5 hurricane, to Facebook’s evident surprise. Ultimately, it may prove to be a watershed moment in how governments — the U.S. in particular — decide internet companies should be regulated after decades of laissez-faire policies. Facebook was caught asleep at the wheel, says Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at GBH Insights. “The Cambridge Analytica debacle has been the darkest chapter in Facebook’s 14-year history,” he says. “We view this as a seminal moment that’s going to change the nature of privacy, content and ad transparency…“The regulatory aftershocks could rattle companies beyond Facebook. In the big M&A deals in play in the media sector — AT&T’s bid for Time Warner, Comcast’s pending acquisition of Sky, Disney’s proposed takeover of 20th Century Fox — streaming media is front and center. And everyone wants to use big data to serve up highly targeted ads … just as Facebook does.”

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