Facing the consequences

Now that Mark Zuckerberg has been brought to account for data violation issues, the tech world waits to absorb the impact

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ll be aware that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been having one of the less comfortable weeks of his life.

Having been called to explain his company’s actions to the US Congress, Mr Zuckerberg has probably been avoiding his own social media platform due to the absolute flood of memes, videos and comments poking fun at his predicament. Accused of allowing political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, to access the raw profiles of 87 million Facebook users, Mr Zuckerberg has not garnered too many likes recently.

Even if it could be shown that Cambridge Analytica’s antics had little or no impact on Mr Trump’s subsequent victory, there is no doubt that there will be consequences for the tech industry. Anyone who wants to collect users’ data via their software or app will be watching the story unfold with bated breath.

Mr Zuckerberg faced many uncomfortable questions during his two-day interrogation and there were some that he couldn’t answer, such as: Did he know how much data Facebook gathers about non-users, or ‘shadow profiles’? Exactly how much data is collected about users after they log out of the platform? How could Facebook alter its policy to collect less data? How many ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons exist outside of Facebook? How are censorship mistakes corrected?

In a world where tech applications are becoming ever more personalised and bespoke – often to the benefit of the user – narrowing the law to curb data collection would undoubtedly affect the future direction of the software and app industries. With the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) due to be implemented in the EU in May, the subject remains at the top of the political agenda. 

Are you working on a way to protect personal data online, or to use your customers’ information in an ethical way? Get in touch with the TechTalk Show team on hello@techtalkshow.co.uk and share your ideas.

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