Terms of Service

TitleTerms of Service
Publication TypeCase Study
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsFunke, MB, Funke, RD, Greer, S, Myers, GA, Potthast, A
PublisherAssociation for Practical and Professional Ethics
AbstractCambridge Analytica, a British based data analytics consulting firm co-founded by Steve Bannon, was at the heart of a scandal surrounding the 2016 Brexit vote and the US Presidential election. During the campaigns Cambridge Analytica acquired personal data on approximately 87 million Facebook users through a third-party app called “This is Your Digital Life.” This data was subsequently used to target voters with advertising and engagement tailored to user specific psychographic data. Users never consented to provide this information to Cambridge Analytica and some watchdogs worry that voter manipulation skews the democratic process. The Former president of Facebook says the platform was “designed to exploit human vulnerabilities.” In response to criticism Facebook maintains that developers behind “This Is Your Digital Life” breached Facebook’s terms of service by sharing personal data with an outside consulting firm. However, in British Parliamentary hearings Facebook’s chief technical officer reported that Facebook had only limited vetting of third-party apps; saying “We did not read all the terms and conditions.” Following up on promises to crackdown on malicious users and fake accounts Facebook has disabled over 1.3 billion accounts in the last six months. At the same time Facebook has seen significant user decline and has lost approximately 120 billion dollars—around 20% of its market value.
Notes©2018 Association for Practical and Professional Ethics   Case from the 2018 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Regional Competition