Recent revelations showed that Cambridge Analytica was able to obtain and use data from 50 million Facebook users to create psychographic profiles. This allowed them to deliver highly targeted and customized political advertising during the 2016 United States presidential election. The leaked blueprint for the Trump campaign indicated that they were able to “target 10,000 different ads to different audiences” in the lead-up to the election.
These findings raise significant issues around consent and privacy. The majority of users are not aware of how their data is used or what rights they have to their own information. According to one survey, 61% of respondents were “unaware of Facebook’s right to share their information with third parties.” While users need to take some responsibility for the information that they share with Facebook (and by extension, many third-party sites and apps), most Terms and Conditions are opaque and confusing, even for tech-savvy users.