If there’s anything to learn from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s that quiz apps are basically cutesy ways to grab data and package it up pretty for others. But if you believe the posters, newspapers adverts, TV ads and constant news feed posts, Facebook is on its own campaign trail that asserts “we have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.”
To make good on this promise, Facebook has been conducting an audit of its historical apps to make sure there aren’t more scandals waiting to happen. To help with the audit, the company announced a data abuse bounty program that allows external researchers to identify and report vulnerabilities regarding data abuse to Facebook so it can address the issue.
Nearly 120 million active monthly users could have had their data exposed to any third-party that requested it. There’s no confirmation yet on how much of this data was scraped and compromised, but that’s not the point.
Facebook is undeniably front and center with its message that it cares about data privacy and needs to address its data security issues. But with undisclosed timelines for the current app audit, it’s hard to feel like these efforts are moving ahead fast enough to truly protect users. And that begs the question: is all the PR and messaging working?
The short answer is yeah… kind of. Maybe?
Following Cambridge Analytica, the social media service actually increased usage according to Goldman Sachs. It seems #DeleteFacebook was all hashtag, no action. Further, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 43 percent of users hadn’t changed their usage habits and 22 percent use Facebook more following the scandal. The company may have been slow to respond and it may not be getting any quicker in dealing with new vulnerabilities, but the impact seems to be null. Maybe users are accepting the actions Facebook is promising to protect data. Maybe users say one thing and do another (ala #DeleteFacebook).
An unscientific poll conducted by The Atlantic found that nearly 58 percent of survey participants don’t trust the platform. The company needs to focus on making sure its PR train delivers results or risk derailment in the effort to regain trust. Because trust is what’s at stake here – not whether or not the company can make money (because they can, and will). If Facebook doesn’t continue to make good on its messaging promises, the status quo can’t hold forever.