TECH
22/03/2018 15:32 GMT | Updated 22/03/2018 16:28 GMT

Advertisers Hit Back At Facebook After Cambridge Analytica

Is this crunch time for the social giant?

Facebook faces some tough questions this week from advertisers with a number of large organisations reportedly already reconsidering their current spending on the social giant after the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The ISBA, the trade body which represents UK advertisers, is meeting Facebook later this week to discuss the steps that the social network will be taking to regain trust with its users.

Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

In a statement given to HuffPost UK, ISBA’s Director General Phil Smith said: “ISBA are meeting with Facebook tomorrow (Friday). We want to understand the scope of the inquiry Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday. We want reassurances for our members that it will get to the bottom of the issues and any implications for the public and for advertisers.”

If true this would be a major blow for Facebook as the ISBA represents more than 3,000 brands across the UK including those owned by Unilever and P&G.

While none have directly pulled their advertising from Facebook yet, M&C Saatchi boss David Kershaw told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “I don’t think they’re bluffing. They are going to exert real pressure.”

ISBA collectively spend hundreds of millions of pounds on advertising on Facebook and so as a group they could have considerable influence over how the company responds to the crisis.

The non-profit Mozilla Foundation, which develops and distributes Firefox, confirmed via a blog post that they would be pausing its advertising on Facebook.

In the blog post the company said the revelations around Cambridge Analytica had forced it, “to take a closer look at Facebook’s current default privacy settings given that we support the platform with our advertising dollars.”

“While we believe there is still more to learn, we found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data – particularly with respect to settings for third party apps.”

Cambridge Analytica: What happened

At first glance, the “thisisyourdigitallife” Facebook quiz looked like any other. If you wanted to take part you just had to download the app, log in via Facebook, agree to share some profile information, and that was it. 

And around 270,000 people did just that.

But the app actually did a lot more. It is now at the centre of a huge scandal involving a British data firm linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the UK’s Brexit Leave campaign.

Because what users may not have known is that along with their own data, they were also allowing the app to access their friends’ information, and it’s this extension of the data harvesting – and what was done with it – that has made headlines.

Reuters

It is thought that the information of around 50 million people was harvested using the app, and used to influence politics in the US and the UK.

Since the revelation Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has released a statement calling the incident a “major breach of trust”. 

In his first interview since the scandal broke, the Facebook founder told CNN he was “really sorry”. 

“This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry this happened,” the 33-year-old said. 

“It’s a responsibility to protect people’s data and if we can’t do that then we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.”