Press "Enter" to skip to content

Facebook backlash may be short-lived, say Cal State Fullerton experts

The improper harvesting of data from 50 million Facebook users by a British political consulting firm prompted pressure on CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Congress as well as a consumer campaign to abandon the social media platform.
Zuckerberg will testify this month before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to explain how Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained and used the data, which reportedly played a role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He also outlined the steps Facebook is taking to prevent improper harvesting of the data of its 2.2 billion users.
The Federal Trade Commission confirmed it is investigating how Facebook handles information about its users.
Cal State Fullerton’s news media services polled some faculty members on their thoughts on the Facebook data scandal:
Joshua Dorsey, assistant professor of marketing:
“In just the past five years, prominent, successful companies such as Yahoo, eBay, Target, PlayStation and Equifax all have experienced data and trust breaches, which affected from 77 million to 3 billion consumers.
Joshua Dorsey, Cal State Fullerton assistant professor of marketing (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)
“For Facebook, the lesson to take from these companies is this: In a digital age, if a company can weather the initial storm through apologies, public relations and some degree of security — real or perceived — consumers will forgive … or just eventually forget.”
So, will this latest breach really affect the level of trust consumers place in Facebook?
“No,” said Dorsey. “Contemporary consumers have become at peace with trading privacy for discount cards at supermarkets, for online social capital — whether real or perceived — and for other similar incentives.”
Dorsey also offered this haiku on the issue:
Facebook data breach
Panic, then forget, repeat
Trade data for what?
Jason Shepard, chair and associate professor of communications:
Experts saw this coming, said Shepard. “But nobody did anything.”
Jason Shepard, Cal State Fullerton chair and associate professor of communications (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)
“Experts on campaign finance law have for many years tried to blow the whistle on foreign entities misusing social media to influence American elections. I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of how sophisticated data analytics have turned our personal information online into powerful, covert tools for political propaganda.”
Calling for regulation is a Catch-22, Shepard said.
“The challenge is that the First Amendment limits how the government can regulate our communications, and when we are voluntarily putting so much information out in the public realm, we can’t expect people not to use that information to try to influence us.
“We love digital tools, but don’t always think about how they may invade our personal privacy until something terrible happens.”
Anthony Fellow, professor of communications and author of the book “Tweeting to Freedom”:
Anthony Fellow, Cal State Fullerton professor of communications and author of the book “Tweeting to Freedom” (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)
“Young people already abandoned Facebook for the more interactive and flashy social mediums, such as Instagram and Twitter, years ago.” Still, users “did not think outside groups would spy on them and collect data about their attitudes, beliefs, values and brand loyalties,” he said.
“A break in that trust has dire consequences on corporate profits, and we see Zuckerberg’s empire crumbling a bit as profits plummet.”
Neil Granitz, professor of marketing:
“Consumers are more concerned with security breaches at retailers, where they have financial information stored; the consequences are immediate and personal,” Granitz said.
“Customers understand the breaches happen, but how the company reacts is of utmost importance.”
People want transparency and assurances, he said. “Facebook must enact immediate safeguards to ensure that data cannot be so easily harvested, in the future, and assure consumers of new policies.”
Mahdi Ebrahimi, assistant professor of marketing:
Mahdi Ebrahimi, Cal State Fullerton assistant professor of marketing (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)
“Data management crises like this make all consumers feel vulnerable, even consumers whose data has not been compromised.
“Just imagine how much companies like Facebook and Google know about your interests, friends and what you buy and where you go. The fallout will be beyond Facebook and Instagram and will spill over to other tech companies that have access to extensive consumer data.”
The New York Times and CSUF’s news media services contributed to this article.
Source: Oc Register

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: