Perth internet expert slams Facebook

Curtin University Internet Studies Lecturer Dr Tama Leaver says today’s developments show Facebook is in real trouble over the data mining scandal.

The founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg today apologised for a major breach of trust after the social media giant failed in its responsibility to protect user information.

And there’s been a renewed call to strengthen Australia’s Privacy Act to better safeguard personal information collected by so-called data miners.

Political research company Cambridge Analytica made global headlines last week after ‘deleted’ user data was kept without Facebook’s knowledge.

University of Cambridge psychology academic Aleksandr Kogan collected data via a survey app, which was passed onto Cambridge Analytica who gathered personal information to target users, including in the 2016 US presidential election.

Although the survey was only taken by 300,000 people, it gave Kogan access to 50 million users after accessing Facebook ‘friends’ who had not agreed to have their information shared.

Curtin University’s Dr Tama Leaver says at some point Facebook was made known of the situation.


Curtin University lecturer Dr Tama Leaver

“Facebook did become aware of this and to make sure their data was secure they sent out an email saying ‘please delete that data’ and got an email back saying ‘yep sure’ and that was as far as they went,” Dr Leaver said.

“As it turns out now, that data wasn’t secured at all.”

According to the ABC, Zuckerberg says the breach has broken his trust between Kogan, Analytica, Facebook and its users.

“It was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it,” he said. “We need to fix that.”

Leaver says Zuckerburg’s address to the public suggests Facebook is not coping well with the situation.

“I think the fact that Zuckerburg has come out and said look we’ve made a big mistake and we really want to fix it, is him admitting they’re in a really bad space,” Dr Leaver said.

The Australian Greens have called on the government to acknowledge the world of data has changed dramatically over the past decade.

But the Turnbull government and the Labor opposition both turned down the motion from the Greens, claiming the government has nothing to hide.

Digital Rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John says Facebook is part of the problem with privacy.

“At the end of the day Facebook must take responsibility here, they have allowed personal information to be mined without the consent of Facebook users,” Senator Steele-John said.

“This data is now within reach of entitles looking to influence politics in Australia.”

Listen to the full interview with Dr Tama Leaver below as he talks about the major implications concerning privacy.