The impact of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal

Much has been made of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal -- and for good reason. Facebook, arguably the largest social media site in the world, is the origination of a data breach that is thought to have affected as many as 87 million users around the globe. While estimates suggest that more than one million people in Indonesia, the United Kingdom and the Philippines might have been affected, it's thought that nearly 64,000 users in New Zealand had their data compromised. 

It Started With 10 

Ten. That's the number of people in New Zealand who downloaded an app for a personality quiz. The actions of those 10 people though rippled out to include almost 64,000 New Zealanders. These people were ones whose information was potentially compromised because they were Facebook friends, according to Facebook's head of communication for New Zealand and Australia, Antonia Sanda. It's safe to assume, however, that many more people around the world were affected because of the global reach of Facebook. As of this writing, that possibility cannot be ruled out. Facebook informed the country's privacy commissioner, John Edwards, that the company was alerting those New Zealanders who were affected by the breach.

Far-Reaching Effects

Also at issue was how Cambridge Analytica used the data it obtained about the New Zealanders who took the quiz and their tens of thousands of friends who were also impacted. Both the extent and the effects of the privacy breach were still being established with the possibility of its fullest ramifications not being known for some time. 

Because this event occurred four years ago, and the data mining tactics employed by Cambridge Analytica were known two years ago, the concern among many in the privacy industry is that Facebook only began acknowledging its occurrence recently. The political manipulation that occurred in the United States as the result of these tactics only hints at its potential for abuse, harm and malice. 

It's also important to remember that though Facebook was the backdrop for this particular data mining incident, the private information of thousands of New Zealanders is collected each day by companies large and small. This provides the potential for further data mining and manipulation.