Did Zuckerberg strategically sell shares ahead of data scandal?

As of Wednesday, Facebook stock shares dropped by 4.41 points to $168.15, which is down 2.56%, knocking $50 billion off the company’s market value.

Facebook stock value for the last month- NASDAQ

The fall comes after UK based company Cambridge Analytica were found to have accessed and used personal data of millions of Facebook users to help further Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016.

Facebook are alleged to have known about this use of data from the time of the election yet did nothing to stop or even notify its users of the abuse of their privacy and personal information.

But what does this mean for the business? According to Max Cherney of Market Watch, Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg saved almost $70 million by selling shares on Tuesday. These shares were apparently sold to fund the philanthropic business founded by himself and his wife in 2015.

However, could Zuckerberg have made a strategic decision to sell these shares just as the data breach by Cambridge analytica made headlines worldwide? Many believe this to be true and this is only making more people lose face in Facebook and its CEO.

 

The data in question was acquired by Aleksandr Kogan’s personality test created in 2014, shared on Facebook as a fun quiz for users to participate in to find out their personality type.

Kogan is a University of Cambridge academic and said he was using the test to research and model human behaviour through the use of social media.

However, the test was found to have collected personal data of not only the person taking the quiz, but also that of their friends, resulting in widespread accumulation of user’s data of about 50 million accounts. Kogen denies ever knowing the information was used to influence campaigns and was under the impression the data was used solely for furthering the reserach into human behaviour.

This has pushed thousands of Facebook users worldwide to protest Facebook’s apparent abuse of power with a hashtag movement to delete Facebook.  Many believe people are better off without the app and their personal data will not suffer if they remove the app.

 

Whatsapp co-founder, Brian Acton, has also called for people to delete Facebook, taking to Twitter to join the #deletefacebook movement:

 

However, deleting Facebook may not be the answer to protecting data, perhaps more ethical business practices are needed in the form of government regulation or stricter punishments for those who use personal data in unethical ways.

Either way, the Facebook data breach has opened up the conversation about data use and privacy. Maybe this will bring with it some stricter security measures when it comes to storing personal information and more importantly, who has secondary access to this information.

 

Raisa Ismail

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