Here’s what happened in the last 48 hours:

  • The world discovered how personal data of over 50 million users on Facebook was obtained by a London-based political consulting firm called Cambridge Analytica. The same firm which helped Donald Trump in his presidential campaign. Cambridge Analytica created psychological profiles of these users and targeted them with messages for political campaigns.
  • The world discovered that Cambridge Analytica got this data on 50 million users from an academic researcher called Aleksandr Kogan. In 2014, Cambridge Analytica hired Kogan to gather information on Facebook users, such as what are the things they like. Kogan created an app called ‘thisisyourdigitallife’, which was downloaded by 2,70,000 Facebook users who participated in Kogan’s study. Kogan’s app collected data on the users and their friends.
  • According to reports, all of this happened without the permission of nearly 50 million users, which makes it one of the biggest cases of data privacy and security breach in recent times.
  • Even as reports started coming in on who benefitted from Cambridge Analytica both in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK, Facebook Inc has lost nearly 10% of its value. It has lost more than $50 billion in valuation.
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has lost nearly $6.8 billion in personal wealth.
  • Lawmakers across the US and the UK have asked Mark Zuckerberg to testify before various committees to explain the company’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica and explain its security and privacy policies.
  • On Tuesday, Facebook Inc was sued by shareholders in a class action suit in the San Francisco federal court. In the complaint, the shareholders say Facebook made “false or misleading statements and failed to disclose that Facebook violated its own data privacy policies by allowing third parties access to personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent”.
  • Channel4 News in the UK put out a story where Cambridge Analytica bosses are heard boasting about the firm’s tactics like bribes, kickbacks, entrapment with sex workers amongst other dubious tactics.
  • Cambridge Analytica suspended its CEO Alexander Nix and instituted an inquiry.
  • Brian Acton, co-founder of WhatsApp, a company owned by Facebook, has publicly asked his followers to delete Facebook. “It is time,” he said and added #deletefacebook
  • #deletefacebook trended for a while. And then some more.
  • Mark Zuckerberg is yet to make a public statement. Mark Zuckerberg did finally break his silence through a Facebook post. Later, in an interview to CNN, he apologised for the scandal and said that he’d be “happy to [testify before Congress] if it’s the right thing to do.”

This is a perfect storm; everything in the last 48 hours.


Venkat Ananth

Venkat is currently in his tenth year in journalism. Prior to The Ken, he was Deputy Content Editor at Mint as part of the newspaper’s digital team. He also wrote in-depth features on the business of sport for the newspaper. His earlier assignments include Yahoo! (as a columnist) and the Hindustan Times, where he began his career. Born in Mumbai, Venkat holds a Bachelor of Mass Media (Journalism) degree from SIES College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai and a Master of Arts degree in International Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London. He currently resides in New Delhi, where he moved nearly five years ago.

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