The recent scandal regarding a British data analysis firm, Cambridge Analytica, has started the #DeleteFacebook campaign. In March, Cambridge Analytica was under fire for using over 50 million Facebook users’ private information for a political campaign. Cambridge Analytica violated Facebook’s terms of service, but Facebook officials took no action. Following this scandal, a backlash against Facebook began as the company came under scrutiny.
The #DeleteFacebook movement is now currently spreading among university students, who are major users of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and KakaoTalk. As the campaign continues, the number of Facebook users have decreased drastically as students replace it with other social media services.
The #DeleteFacebook movement has added a new perspective on social media to the users. Ewha Voice took this opportunity to listen to Ewha students’ opinions regarding the campaign and their thoughts on social networking sites.
“Facebook seems to be very on and off. It is still the one website that holds the most information but is also one filled with advertisements. Then, there’s the constant fear of privacy breach,” said a sophomore student in Human Movement Studies who wishes to remain anonymous. “I am confused about the status of Facebook and how to re-evaluate its value,” said the student. Facebook has always been an accessible platform for students, but with the scandal blowing up in their faces, users remain concerned. “I don’t think the #Delete Facebook movement will gain any traction in Korea. Facebook and its data breach problem are hardly publicized in the Korean media,” said another freshman from the Division of International Studies. “Moreover, social media has become so ingrained in our daily lives that few people think about its downside – the use of social media is almost automatic.”
The recurring problem comes down to the indifference of the public about the misuse of private data on social media.
T h e # D e l e t e F a c e b o o k campaign serves not as a one-time phenomenon, but as an ongoing examination of the repercussions of breach of data enabled by social media.
“Although the recent campaign heads in a desirable direction, in that users legitimately claim their rights, the impact of #DeleteFacebook may be limited in Korea,” explained Yong Hwan-seung, Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. There are few platforms to replace the usefulness of Facebook and the detriment caused by data leakage is not deemed to be of a serious degree.
“It is hard to understand that Facebook would assign the task of data analyzing to a third party, as they did with Cambridge Analytica, when it possesses the autonomous capability. Important information should not be sent externally. The issue of breach of privacy, and data infringement is graver within Korea than it is abroad. Most of the Korean hacking incidents occur due to reliance on outsourced, thirdparty companies. Unfortunately, the information-providing companies receive very few fines or other punitive measures.”
Data leakage occurs when companies merely encrypt the passwords of individual users, and not any of the remaining personal information. The Personal Information Protection Act of Korea requires that only passwords be encrypted and that companies seek consent of users in cases concerning collection of personal, identifiable information.