Facebook, and social media in general, opened the floodgates of torrential conversation. As has been said of the technology, “The good news is, everybody has a voice. The bad news is everybody has a voice.” For many, Facebook has been slipping into a realm of political rants separated only by friend requests from high school sweethearts and pop-up ads. That hint of decline — it seems unlikely that the founders had the current state as a start-up goal — hasn’t slowed the membership growth, however, and millions continue to express their views openly and, until recently, they assumed privately.
Big Data Unleashed
Data from over 50 million user accounts was lifted from Facebook, ostensibly for academic research, and then passed along to political operatives for the creation and dissemination of misinformation during our 2016 elections. This NY Times article will fill in some details, but most outlets are covering the fray, so pick your poison. Most informed perspectives are connecting the data with Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm used by the Trump campaign, and those connections do not bode well for anyone involved. At the beginning of the story, though, were 50 million Facebook users who thought the scope of their audience was limited to their followers and their forwards. Nevertheless, their data were aggregated, mined, and used in ways they probably hadn’t imagined.
There, but for the Grace of God, Go I
Without bending theology unnecessarily, it’s safe to say that the heavens control little of the digital space. There remains the human element, though, and bad people will find clever ways to use your data, ways that you hadn’t imagined.
Instead, it might be best to face the issue head on and book some time with ICS. For the safety of your staff, your organization, and your data, let’s put some fresh eyes on your systems and practices. Unless you like chaos, mayhem, and bad publicity.