Your privacy is no longer private – Thasni Salim


  The world was seriously discussing about the data leakage from facebook recently. Do such a data can make changes in a society?  Quoting the words of   Cristopher Wylei the whistleblower who worked with the Cambridge University academia revealed details about the data breaching “. . . . You’re playing with the entire country. You are playing with the psycology of an entire nation, without their consent or awareness. . . . .  You are playing with the context of democratic process of an entire nation.”

 Cambridge analytica is a UK based political consultancy firm, work through a number of strategic processes for the success in electoral process. Alexander Nix is the CEO of the political firm. They were the master mind behind the election campaign of Donald Trump, Brexit campaign etc. The reports says that the Cambride Analytica sold data of about fifty million facebook users for favouring Donald Trump in US election.  Cambridge Analytica was owned by billionaire Robert Mercer and headed at the time by Trump’s key advisor Steve Bannon. They use information of the users without any permission. They collected information through a website ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ developed by Aleksandr Kogen of Cambridge University through his company Global Science Research. In assosiation with Cambridge Analytica, Aleksandr Kogen paid   thousands of users to take a test for academic purpose.

The data breaching was noticed by facebook in 2015, but failed to alert and protect the data of its 50million users. The Cambridge analytica was not only collected the data of the one who used the website of GSR, but also their friends.  The facebook platform policy allows the collection of friends data only to improve the user experience.  But the Cambridge analytica misused this policy. The recent discussions araised only when the facebook announced the suspension of Cambridge Analytica.

The reports suggest that the CA played crucial rule in Brexit in assosiation with the Leave. EU group. Arron Banks the co-founder of Leave. EU, in his book wrote that they hired Cambridge Analytica a company that uses “big data and vast psycographics”. Alexander Nix CEO of CA also wrote in campaign magazine that they are working for leave. EU as per the reports of Reuters.

How the people are influenced by social media campaigns. The US presidential election gives the answer. Each and every media strongly believed that Hilary Clinton will become the president of USA.  Every exitpolls also told the same.  The whole world shocked when Donald Trump became the president. Later reports came out about strong social media campaigns took place during the election time.

Facebook is not just a social media platform. A facebook page is fair enough to determine the attitude, Social behaviour, and political attitude of an individual. In majority of the democratic nations atleast 20-40% people are not politically active or not part of any political party.  This section of people is the decision makers in every election process.  In India the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party had got the vote of 30%.

 The main agenda of Cambridge analytica is to analyse huge amount of user data through behavioural sceinces and select the most persuadable ones. If a person who has no active political activity or interest to political party is always encountering with the news of a particular political person, it slowly will develop a pro attitude to that person. The news came infront of that person may or may not be true.  But slowly he starts believing that what they hear is true. A repeated lie becomes the truth.

Democracy is the process selecting the rulers themselves.  As per the definition democracy is “for the people, by the people and of the people”. If any external force persuade a citizen to choose a particular candidate then how the institution of democracy survive? Every media do the function of persuation.  But the persuation through a written or audio visual media is different from the personalised persuation in a social website. We do not get enough time to check the credibility of the piece of information we are encountered with. So we start believe them slowly.

The importance of facebook as a marketing tool increased these days. A single click on any advertisement will results in the flooding of similar products in your notification wall. Apart from this we may click to various links like see how you look after 20 years, who is your real friend, who is your secret crush and so on. It is surely time passing and funny.  But each time we click on such a website we unknowingly give an unknown site to see and analyse our avtivities, friends etc. The objective of facebook behind such permission is to increase the user experience. 

Recently the University of Cambridge came out with a research ‘computers using digital foot prints are better judges of personality’. As per that report ‘based on facebook likes computers can judge personality traits better than family, Friends or even partners.’

We all think that facebook is our personal space where we can share our thoughts, Ideas and see what we want to see.  Facebook is always trying to increase the user experience by checking the activities of each user. Apart from facebook, many websites who advertise in facebook collect our data and friend’s data by a single click. It’s better to remain alert in every virtual media. We are living in a world were a person with a smart device can control the universal persuation.  From jasmine revolution to the CA we can draw a number of similar examples. Your privacy is not longer private.


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