Whatsapp founder Brian Acton has taken to Twitter this week to urge people to delete their Facebook accounts in the wake of reports that Cambridge Analytica, a Steve Bannon funded political research firm, hijacked data from over 50-million unknowing Facebook users, to influence Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Acton, who made billions of dollars from the sale of Whatsapp to Facebook back in 2014, posted that it was time to delete the digital lifestyle app tweeting ‘It is time. #deletefacebook.’
The social media scandal comes after Christopher Wylie, a 28-year-old data analyst and co-founder of Cambridge Analytica revealed to the press the full extent of the data breach. The data – which included status updates, ‘likes’ and even private messages Wylie claims, allowed them to create detailed profiles of users and target them with content designed to alter their voting intention
‘Facebook could see it was happening’ – says Wylie.
Armed with startlingly nuanced profiles of 50 million Americans, Cambridge Analytica were able to operate as a ‘propaganda machine’ Mr Wylie says. They used their team of photographers, videographers and designers to create content adhering to this analysis and would then ‘inject’ it, at exactly the right moment to exactly the right people, to change their voting intention. Mr Wylie described the operation as like ‘whispering into the ear of each and every voter’.
Facebook does not make a it easy for their users to keep track of their constantly updating privacy settings and back in 2015 when this data was taken, millions of users settings facilitated this kind of data harvesting.
Cambridge Analytica, the firm involved in a row over its use of Facebook data, has now suspended its boss Alexander Nix.