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Has the Cambridge Analytica scandal prompted you to #deletefacebook?

We all know that joining the likes of Facebook means giving up certain personal information. But the Cambridge Analytica scandal has revealed a much darker picture of how our data is treated…

How quickly I plunged into posting on Facebook over a decade ago. Back in those days there was no private messenger, so every conversation was plastered on your or your friend’s profile for the world to see.

As many of us are doing amidst the Cambridge Analytica scandal, I have recently been through my settings to lock down as much of my personal data as I could.

And in doing so I came across my entire published history on Facebook and why I’m targeted with certain ads.

Why we need the right to be forgotten

Reading through my archives makes for cringe-worthy reading – not just for the hybrid text speak (ur kiddn me lol), asking friends about how their operations went and updates about being drunk in a bar instead of studying – but how willing I was to broadcast my life.

These are things I’d prefer not to remember. And thankfully I’ll soon have the right for it to be forgotten.

Reading back – now with the benefit of hindsight – I’m amazed at how trusting I was with everything about me which makes me, me. I happily did quizzes from unknown companies and posted results, liked hundreds of pages, shared questionable photos and regrettable statuses.

I think I felt safe because I thought it was just a network of my friends and family who saw it.

But now, as an opinion piece in the Guardian so eloquently put it, I’ve awoken from the daydream and am wondering how I was so happy handing over so much of my private information.

How much does Facebook know about you?

I used the Which? Guide on how to manage your Facebook data and found I’d inadvertently given my friends’ apps access to my timeline posts, political views, interests and whether I was online.

And I learned Facebook had identified me as an ex-pat Kiwi, with an iPhone 5S, who has housemates, is an early technology adopter and should be targeted when a close male friend has a birthday coming up.

I thought, as an early adopter, I would have been – should have been – more clued up on what Facebook was collecting on me. I’ve only just learned it stores any messages you type, even if you then delete them after thinking better of it.

It knows me better than anyone.

Is it time to #deletefacebook?

But despite all this, I’m not sure I’m ready to delete my Facebook account. At times targeted ads are really useful. I like knowing if there’s a sale on flights, a new app which will make my life better or if a recipe box company is offering a free trial.

What I don’t like the idea of is third parties buying my information and using it to influence me, my opinions and my vote. Or others, for that matter.

But what about you? Are you joining the #deletefacebook movement? Or after using our guide to see what information you’ve been sharing, are you surprised your private life isn’t so private?


I can never really understand why people ever used it. It was clearly eventually going to be abused. Along with Whatsapp and many others, there are almost no safeguard for what might happen in the future. Even organisations you think might be totally reliable and never let you down will do so when it suits them.

I must agree. Why anybody wants to be in communication with people they don’t know, can’t see, won’t meet, beats me. It is the ultimate digital explosion of a juvenile hard-copy college student listing book. Brilliant [and highly profitable] notion to use the internet to expand it exponentially but as soon as it became a commercial and mainstream media vehicle the pitfalls became apparent. They are now going to have to constrain it so tightly it will lose much of its commercial appeal and therefore its revenue stream, but the damage has already been done and the criminal elements already have access to more data than they can deploy for years ahead.

I never went there in the first place, since I could simply communicate everything I needed to by E. mail and letters in the post box. I am one of the minority who was never persuaded to publish and share my life as it happened. That said, my sister is an avid user and uploads photos, chats with friends and family and gains a great deal of pleasure being social on this media. There always has to be a black side, doesn’t there? This seemingly innocent and enjoyable pastime has been hijacked by the cynical manipulators and, of course, that’s simply because there is money to be made in selling data. Whether this has now extrapolated into political influence as well is a matter for debate, but the evidence points to the fact that this power game is growing and might supersede the desire to make a profit from targeted advertising.

P.S. How dare they keep and use other people’s data? How dare they refuse to delete accounts?

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Since Cambridge Analytica is under investigation by the Information Commissioner I am sure their collar is being firmly felt. Their protestations of innocence are becoming increasingly desperate so I expect they are feeling the heat. We can’t touch Facebook effectively but we can certainly deal with Cambridge Analytica. I guess Amber Rudd is looking to make an example of them and send a warning shot across the bows of any other UK company that might have the same ideas.

I did like the way the IC announced on TV that they would be seeking a warrant to search the CA offices. Nice bit of warning…

Tales of boxes of documents seen leaving the building (do such outfits actually have documents?)….. I wonder why any warning was given, rather than a dawn raid? Well, no, I don’t really.

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As we engage with any and all digital media we create our own digital footprint.

Anything that we make publicly available can obviously be collected by anyone, for whatever purpose they have in mind.

What Cambridge Analytica reportedly did was to gather up oodles of data and then apply that commercially, irrespective of whether or not that had warned their data subjects that this would be done, or sought permission to do so.

As I see it, that is somewhat different from some smart hackers doing likewise with directly stolen data. But in either case, if we give our data to someone else, how can we trust that they will keep it safe?

As regards illicit data acquisition, or espionage, and also for counter espionage, it is interesting to note that Cambridge frequently provides leading players in these fields.

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Duncan, it is not common practice for businesses to publish all of their innermost secrets via the mass media.

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Cambridge Analytica was founded by Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer and Bannon, of course, is best known for his breathtakingly intellectual and unbiased Breitbart News…

Make no mistake; the Cambridge Analytica scandal is not about YOUR personal FaceBook data. You can delete your account and try to exercise your right to be forgotten (good luck with that!), and millions of others can do the same, but it is too late to undo the damage already done.

What is going on here is misuse of the enormous amount of data (so called “big data”) that exists about all of us and is being collected, curated and sold to all comers.

Every time you go shopping with a store card, every time you browse the internet, every time you use your smartphone, every time you make a banking transaction, you are being tracked and you leave a digital fingerprint. Using social media, completing online surveys and personality tests is just the icing on the cake that enables companies with access to that data, like Cambridge Analytica, to build a more complete profile of who you are and how you behave.

What is really unfair is that those of us who are more cautious about the use of our data have been impacted in exactly the same way, as those who wear their online hearts on their sleeve. This is because Cambridge Analytica, and no doubt other companies not yet in the public eye, are using information about you to undermine the democratic process for all of us. Unbelievable? Not a bit!

It is alleged that Cambridge Analytica were instrumental in the election of Donald Trump. All this about Hillary Clinton’s misuse of email servers, Russians dirty tricks and Twitter Bots (which are unintelligent programs) is unlikely to be the real reason Trump beat Clinton by the narrowest of margins, and only in the States where it really mattered.

Careful analysis of FaceBook profile data, the infamous personality test, and posting of personally-crafted messages likely to provoke an imperceptible change in political viewpoint, are techniques called “psychographic segmentation”, “micro-targeting” and “nudging” in IT marketing speak. These covert techniques are already used today (legally) to sell you products you probably don’t want and didn’t know you needed.

But the big difference here is that, regardless of whether YOU have a FaceBook account or not, and whether you choose to delete it, the outcome for 100% of Americans has already changed – and possibly for the rest of the world who didn’t get a vote in the matter either.

If the alleged involvement of Cambridge Analytica in the Brexit Leave campaign is also true, and the same targeting methods have been applied, then we are all heading rapidly for the EU exit, thanks to a small minority of the British population who have been careless with their personal data. No doubt any pro-Brexit voter will deny this. The simple fact is they may not even realize they have been targeted by organisations like Cambridge Analytica – that is the whole point of the exercise.

Most people believe they’re immune to advertising and external influences; they only affect ‘other people’. That’s possibly the single most dangerous aspect of what CA has done, because the type of influence welded by CA was nuanced, subtle and devastatingly effective. Unlike in other countries, where bribes, blackmail and prostitutes were routinely deployed to get results, CA operated in the US and here through a medium many people mistakenly assume is secure.

I agree that this forms the basis for a demand for another referendum, of which those voting to leave do seem rather scared.

Ian, I agree it’s odd that many Brexit supporters seem rather scared of another referendum.

Just found out something rather interesting:

Unlike virtually all other search warrants, warrants issued under Blighty’s Data Protection Act must by law, in most circumstances, require those on the receiving end be given seven days of notice of the intended swoop in writing, and be given a chance to argue against the warrant if they so wish.” Courtesy The Register.

The warning signs have been there for a long time. I was on Facebook briefly a few years ago. I deleted my account because I disliked the whole Facebook set up and was warned repeatedly by several sources, including Which?, that there were security issues with it.

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I am not averse to the government’s policy hitherto of not enabling class actions in the English courts. There is something unpleasantly parasitic about the whole process whereby the lawyers get one third of the value of the compensation award if the action is successful. OK – they get nothing if the claim fails, but that is their risk so they could just levy the appropriate fee for the work involved and divide it between the separate claimants. Since the fees would then be open to assessment [‘taxing’] by the court this would be fairer Unfortunately, the class action or contingency fee method is probably the only way that the ordinary person on their own or in small numbers can afford to seek redress. The casework involved is very little more if a thousand people make the claim than a hundred so I think the court should set a much lower limit if there are a lot of claimants.

“Is it time to #deletefacebook?” – I am not sure either.

Currently I am an active user of Social media (Facebook Instagram, etc).

I must confess, in the past, I wanted to delete Facebook many times (mainly to save my time), but it appeared to be impossible for the following reasons:

1) During my student years, all the university colleagues of mine used Facebook very actively and frequently shared all the important information there: exam dates, answers for difficult homework, discussed what to give for birthdays and so on.
2) Later in life, my work colleagues constantly shared all the party photos there, discussed dates to meet up for a drink etc.
3) Many of my friends do live abroad and I do want to see their wedding photos, their children growing up. It is an easy way to keep in touch with people you care about, but you can not see too often.

I don’t want to cause trouble to everyone by asking “Could you email me”?

I might disagree with current Facebook privacy policies and the scandal did certainly disappoint me in some way.

In the nutshell, when all my friends and colleagues do delete Facebook – I will delete my Facebook too.

I treat FB the same as I would a rabid leper with a severe flea infestation. It’s an ugly, dangerous, invasive creation, designed to monetise its users on a huge scale.

There are many other ways of maintaining contacts; to say deleting it is ‘impossible’ is a bit of a stretch, really. Asking people to use email is much easier and better than pointing people to your facebook page, IME.

I assume you’re Armenian, Kristina, so I can see you’d want to keep up with friends and family there. But a far, far safer and more secure way would be to start your own forum or blog (but not one owned or managed by Google…). One major problem with FB is that even if you’re careful with your privacy settings your friends cannot always be relied upon to do the same, and it’s often fascinating how much you can find out about someone through their own page but using a firend’s site as a reference point.

I’ve recently joined Facebook, as a way of keeping in touch more now that I am retired.

But I can understand why Ian doesn’t like it all – it does really seem to be a complicated and confusing suite of software…

Exactly, Derek, I agree with you 100%, it is mainly to keep in touch with friends and family. So true, it is confusing for me too, as they keep updating and changing things all the time.

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Hi 🙂 Just to update you, we’ve removed part of your comment, Duncan. The majority of it was fine and so had been re-instated. We’re sorry for any haste in removing the entire comment.

Please could I remind our community not to make generalisations or stereotype about people’s gender or nationality? Comments which could cause offense may be moderated. As always, if you see a comment which you think could cause offence please do report it so that we can take a look into this further.

I would suggest that when making assumptions, please make sure you phrase these as opinions or questions, and not as facts. Thanks, Alex.

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