The Parthenon

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EDITORIAL: Facebook scandal reveals startling power of social media

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Russia has been in the news at a high frequency since the 2016 election, in which evidence reveals the foreign government used social media to influence American voters in an attempt to sway public opinion toward Donald Trump, the winning candidate.

As Robert Mueller continues investigations into possible collusion from the Trump administration, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg has been under fire after revealing that as many as 146 million people may have received information from the Russian agency accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

On top of this, many Facebook users have become upset over the revelation that Cambridge Analytica was collecting data from nearly 87 million Facebook users and selling the information to advertisers. This just goes to show the unraveling product of an unregulated media platform.

In many ways, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are like the wild west. There is practically no regulation, and because of this, it is incredibly simple for companies like Cambridge Analytica to deceive and exploit consumers, and in the same way, possible for foreign governments to influence domestic politics. Zuckerberg will spend the next two days testifying in front of Congress, ditching his standard gray t-shirt and jeans for a suit and tie, as serious discussions of regulation will take place.

“We didn’t focus enough on preventing abuse and thinking through how people could use these tools to do harm as well,” Zuckerberg told reporters on a media call. “That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, hate speech–we didn’t take a broad enough view of what our responsibility is, and that was a huge mistake. It was my mistake. But it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough.”

The next two days will be important to the growing concern of privacy on an uncontrolled social media.

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