In an explosive revelation this week, data firm Cambridge Analytica has been accused of using personal information collected from 50 million Facebook users without their consent. It is alleged that the London-based company used the data to sway public sentiment in support of their political and social agendas.
Two of the most significant of these events are the election of US President Donald Trump and the Brexit vote regarding Britain exiting the European Union.
Unauthorised data acquisition & sharing
How was the user data originally acquired?
In 2013, a Cambridge psychology researcher called Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app for Facebook. Users who signed up were paid to participate by taking the online psychological test.
However, the app not only gathered information from the 270 000 users that installed it, but also accessed and acquired the data of the participants’ Facebook friends without user knowledge or consent.
How did Cambridge Analytica get the data?
Kogan allegedly supplied the collective information to Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook policies. In addition to the unauthorised gathering and misuse of data being unethical, such acts are illegal in many countries.
What was Facebook’s reaction to the unauthorised use of data?
Once Facebook was made aware of the unauthorised acquisition, transference and use of the data, they took action against the offending parties. Kogan’s app was immediately banned from the platform. He was ordered to delete all records of the data – including those sent to third-party entities such as Cambridge Analytica – and furnish proof of the data destruction. Facebook received formal certifications from both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica confirming that all collected information was destroyed. They also changed the platform to limit further unauthorised access to data.
Cambridge Analytica Scandal:
Unethical misuse of data
What was Facebook’s response to the revelation of data misuse by Cambridge Analytica?
Facebook has come under sever fire for the unauthorised use of the user data obtained via their platform. Their initial response was defensive, with one senior executive stating that “no systems were infiltrated, no passwords stolen or hacked”. Facebook claimed that the improper use of data did not constitute a “breach” on their part. They asserted that they were deceived by both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica (recent events indicating that despite the certifications given to Facebook by these parties, the data had not been deleted).
However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg later admitted that not investigating further in 2015 was a mistake, one that he deeply regrets. Holding himself accountable to the platform users, he said:
“I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.”
Full statement by Mark Zuckerberg:
I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we've already taken and our next…
What steps are being taken by Facebook to ensure the security of user data?
Facebook has outlined a multi-faceted approach to user data security that includes: limiting data access, auditing and managing developer activity, protecting data misuse by third-parties and promoting increased user management of apps.
Some of the initial adjustments by Facebook are listed below, with the social media giant expected to reveal addition changes over the next few weeks.Current measures being taken by the Facebook team include:
Auditing and review:
Review of apps that had access to data prior to the 2014 platform change (which restricted access to data)
Conducting of thorough audits of all apps and services that have access to user data
Banning of any party displaying irregular or questionable activity
Banning of any developer that does not agree to an audit
Should apps be banned due to misuse of data or policy non-compliance, all users of that app will be notified accordingly
Encouraging users to report inappropriate or prohibited use of data by developers by rewarding people who identify such behaviour
Restricted access to data:
The scope of access to data in general by developers will be restricted to protect users.
Login data will be limited to name, profile photo and email address
App sign in information will be limited to name, profile photo and email address
Developers will have to get a signed contract from users in order to access their posts or private data
Any additional information required by developers will be subject to Facebook and/or user approval
Increased user protection and control:
Apps that have not been used for 3 months will be deactivated from account
Users will be notified about any suspicious activity observed relating to apps they use
The existing app permission tool will be moved from the privacy setting to the News Feed area for ease of access and use
Users will be shown how to check which apps have access to their data, as well as view the permissions settings of each app
Users will be shown how to manage apps, including setting such as permission changes and revoking of access
App management services will be improved for enhanced user experience
As the saga continues to unfold…
Investigations by various entities including the US Congress and the European Parliament are underway. Cambridge Analytica deny all allegations of wrong-doing, saying they are willing to undergo a forensic audit. Nonetheless, CEO Alexander Nix has been suspended pending the outcomes of the probes. And the man at the heart of the scandal, Aleksandr Kogan, says Facebook is to blame.
Despite Zuckerberg vowing to take corrective action aimed at preventing such data loss in the future, he did not escape unscathed. The Facebook founder may have to provide the US Congress with testimony relating to the security of user data on the platform.
Regardless of what the ultimate findings of the investigations will be, the sheer magnitude of this scandal is expected to impact policies governing user data security on a global level. And due to the uncertainty of the current situation, the resulting effect on businesses is, at present, a matter of speculation.
How can you provide killer customer service that attracts and retains clients? While this seems like loaded question dealing with a complex issue, the answer is amazingly simple:
Find out what your customers want and give it to them.
How, you ask? The solution is staring you in the face – literally. By using the social media platforms at your fingertips. Global statistics show an increasing use of social media as the preferred consumer service platform. We look at the reasons leading to this growth, as well as highlight some of the benefits offered by social media when it comes to your customer support services.
67% of companies believe social customer service is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centres. (Sprout)
Why social media?
Location, location, location. As mentioned, social media is where your clients are – therefore, it should be your base of operations as well. But that’s not the only reason. Social media opens up a wealth of functions and tools that can be used to substantially upgrade your service delivery. Used effectively, it not only elevates client satisfaction levels, but also supports your core business objectives.
What are the benefits?
Improved Customer Service
Customers have a single point of contact for basic service issues such as queries or complaints. This reduces frustration experienced via other methods (such as dealing with multiple people telephonically or via email). The written online conversation can be referred back to by both the client and business staff, thus avoiding miscommunication and eliminating the need for repetition. The higher speed and response rate typical of social media platforms also boost client satisfaction levels.
Inclusive Customer Experience
“Customer Experience” or CX refers to the client’s total interaction with a brand from the first point of contact and throughout all subsequent interactions. Social Media allows you to engage with all consumers i.e. not just those who contact you with a query or complain. Content such as product updates, tips, advice and information form part of the client support services provided by the brand. This inclusive ongoing flow of communication helps customers feel more connected and part of a niche “community”, as well as positions the business as a client-focused organisation.
Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with customers on a one-on-one basis. Personal, direct contact helps clients feel that the business cares about them as an individual and appreciates their support. This fosters positive feelings towards the brand, promoting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Improve Business Quality
Using social media for customer service does not just improve your support in isolation. It leads to uplifting the quality of the organisation as a whole. The interactive nature of social media gives consumers a voice to state their needs and wants. Considering that a business only exists because of its customers, the value of basing actions on customer preference leads not only to happier clients that are loyal to the brand, but also business success and growth.
Customer service is rapidly becoming the definitive consumer consideration impacting business success. Businesses that fail to meet customer expectations are likely to lose out to competitors that do. Social media provides the solution you need to not only boost service quality, but positively enhance overall brand experience for your customers.
Why use social media? The real question is: “Why not?”
LEADING WOMEN SUMMIT CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY WITH SOUTH AFRICA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
The third FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit powered by MTN Business welcomes notable 2018 speakers Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Dr Rolene Strauss and Vivian Onano to the line-up.
Johannesburg, March 6th 2018: The third annual FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit (LWS) powered by MTN Business will take place on Thursday March 8th in Rosebank, Johannesburg to celebrate UN International Women’s Day with 120 of South Africa’s most influential women in attendance. This year’s summit is themed: ‘The Trillion Dollar Female Economy’.
“The Leading Women Summit effectively encapsulates all that FORBES WOMAN AFRICA stands for: feisty fearless women for who success is but a small step towards creating a world where jobs and opportunities exist for everyone; women whose collective might drives business in Africa,” says editor of Forbes Woman Africa, Methil Renuka.
Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Dr Rolene Strauss and Vivian Onano are just some of the top-tier contributors on the day, including a panel discussion with C-Suite executives on the role of women in leadership. Additionally, an all-female economists panel will be unpacking the economic outlook for South Africa in 2018 and the role women have to play in growing the economy. The March 2018 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA cover will be the focus of a conversation with editor, Methil Renuka.
“Following last year’s successful all-day event, this FORBES WOMAN AFRICA gathering has become the definitive International Women’s Day event in South Africa,” says Roberta Naicker, Managing Director for the ABN group of companies. “Since the maiden event in 2016, the event has grown in demand and stature with an extensive waiting list for people to attend this invitation-only summit”, says Naicker. “This event is not your typical women empowerment event as we focus more on sharing the successes of our fellow woman across Africa and across the globe. We are not only creating a premium network of individuals in a room, but also highlighting those women who are an inspiration to their peers and a younger generation.”
MTN Business South Africa has supported the event since inception, and has helped grow the event into a formidable one in the month of March for International Women’s Day.
Says Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN South Africa: “As an organisation that is committed to celebrating, enabling and empowering women, we view ourselves as more than an enabler of the ICT sector. We see it as our responsibility to create brighter lives by unlocking the potential of women across sectors and within the communities we serve. Sponsoring the Summit is an important step on this journey.”
The event welcomes the IDC as an event contributor; strategic partners, PPC and Thomson Reuters as well as Social Media 101, our social media event partner to the 2018 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit.
The 2018 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit is attended by high-profile women within their respected fields of influence. For those who won’t be able to make it into the room, select parts of the event will be streamed live via social media to a larger global audience.
The event is proudly executed by ABN Event Productions.
To stay up to date with the latest information, follow the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit Twitter account: @LWSummit or the official #LWS2018 hashtag and website: www.leadingwomensummit.co.za