THROUGH seemingly innocuous psychological tests on Facebook, the skill with which Cambridge Analytica - the now bankrupted political consulting firm based in the United Kingdom - combined and analysed diverse data sets of over 80 million user accounts proves that unethical data mining, brokerage and analysis has unwittingly become social media companies' biggest existential threat.
This was not a hard-to-predict black swan event. Indeed, many have sounded the clarion call for action. However, the nature and fervour of these successful startups, while admirable, make them especially vulnerable. Since their nascence, they have thrived on risk in favour of rapid growth. Such strategies must be moderated as they evolve into behemoths. Otherwise, the costs are great, as seen in the billions of US dollars of Facebook share price value wiped out following the data scandal.
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