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May 24, 2018

May 24, 2018 @ 11:36 AM

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Cambridge Analytica has rubbed off Brand Equity of Facebook

GD Topic

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Read and develop points for discussion for GD Topic : Cambridge Analytica has rubbed off Brand Equity of Facebook

Mark Zuckergerg, CEO of Facebook, faced a hostile US Congress, as they grilled him on the role played by Facebook in facilitating breach of data and privacy of several users of Facebook for commercial gains. The whole scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, catapulted Facebook to limelight for all the wrong reasons. Did it have an impact on Facebook’s brand equity or not?

The Scandal in Brief

Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm, accused of influencing elections around the world, for instance, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, by harvesting data of millions of people to understand the target audience, their preferences and so on to help its clients. Facebook comes into the picture as a lot of data used by Cambridge Analytica came from Facebook users, who, unknowingly, fell into the trap. This happened because Facebook allowed third party apps to exploit its weak privacy laws, gather data from users and then, sell it off for commercial gain. Cambridge Analytica used this to harvest data from 87 million Facebook users. 

Dents Facebook’s Image

The scandal has indeed, dented Facebook’s image. The issue here is not so much as data breach but more importantly, a breach of trust that millions of people across the globe put in Facebook. A new user who signs into Facebook, does so after sharing a lot of personal data with Facebook, assuming that the data will be protected. This is besides the various activities that users do on Facebook, such as sharing their personal moments through photos and videos, signing into third party apps to play games and so on. 

The scandal, undoubtedly, rocked Facebook’s public image, which took a severe beating. The betrayal of trust and breach of privacy of millions of people, sullied the image of Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. Financially, too, the company suffered a loss of more than $50 billion in its value in a single day, in the days following the expose.

#Delete Facebook

Following the breakout of this scandal and the very public inquisition of Mark Zuckerberg, a ‘#Delete Facebook’ campaign slowly gained momentum. With millions of people across the world expressing worry over the serious loopholes in data protection and privacy compromise, the campaign is likely to strengthen in times to come.  

Facebook Stays Strong

However, the entire negativity around Facebook doesn’t seem to have affected its traffic. According to a ‘Business Insider’ report, Facebook had a 7% year-on-year rise in mobile traffic in the US during this period. The time spent on Facebook by users has also seen an increase. This could also reflect more engagement of users in understanding the privacy laws and looking for ways to secure their Facebook profile. But this does point to the fact that even as Facebook’s image is tarnished because of the scandal, it still remains the premier social networking site connecting 2.2 billion people across the world. 

Facebook is Willing to Change

The one thing that came out of this scandal is the explicit willingness on the part of Mark Zuckerberg to change the way Facebook operates. The loopholes in the security of user data are likely to be tightened. Zuckerberg has, in fact, pledged to protect its users’ data. He has also promised to limit third party access to data. This proves that Facebook is dynamic and willing to set its house in order. 

Facebook’s image may have taken a beating, eroding a lot of its brand equity but it remains the largest social networking site connecting 2.2 billion people of the world and people continue to use it.  

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