Facebook and Datamining

Maintaining privacy in a world of social media and constant sharing is tough. Help students continue to learn and better understand how the media uses their information with this week’s CLP Current Event.

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.


News Sources

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for data-privacy scandals in full-page newspaper ads, by ABC News Australia, March 25, 2018

“Facebook’s chief executive officer has used ads in multiple US and British newspapers to apologise for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, saying the social media platform does not deserve to hold personal information if it can not protect it.”

Another chapter on Facebook’s privacy woes is being written in Latin America, by Felicitas Carrique, TechCrunch, March 31, 2018
“The abuse of Facebook’s platform for political purposes is a problem that doesn’t stop at the U.S border. Governments around the world are continuing to wrestle with the implications of Cambridge Analytica’s acquisition of Facebook user data from the heart of Europe to the capitals of Latin America’s most populous nations.”

Researcher who inspired Cambridge Analytica’s data harvesting says era of privacy is over, by Tony Dokoupil, CBS News, March 28, 2018
“Facebook on Wednesday changed its privacy settings to make them easier to find, and for the first time, users can also erase all of their data from the site. But some experts are warning that no matter what Facebook does in the wake of its data scandal, your privacy is already gone.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for data-privacy scandal in full-page newspaper ads, ABC News, March 25, 2018
“Facebook’s privacy practices have come under fireafter Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm affiliated with President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, got data inappropriately.
The firm is alleged to have created psychological profiles to influence how people vote or even think about politics and society.”

Crisis experts say Facebook has mishandled the data scandal, by Mae Anderson, Times Colonist, March 21, 2018
“The point is to at least make an effort to seem remorseful to win back public trust, experts say. But despite user outcry on its own Facebook page and a call from Congress for Zuckerberg to testify about Facebook’s role in election-meddling, Facebook seems to be charting its own course.”

Facebook’s Zuckerberg apologizes for ‘major breach of trust’ in wake of data-mining scandal, by Barbara Ortutay, Danica Kirka, Gregory Katz, Chicago Tribune, March 21, 2018
“Breaking five days of silence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for a ‘major breach of trust,’ admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect user data in light of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm.
‘I am really sorry that happened,’ Zuckerberg said of the scandal involving data mining firm Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has a ‘responsibility’ to protect its users’ data, he said in a Wednesday interview on CNN. If it fails, he said, ‘we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.’”


Questions to Consider

  • What is data mining? How is research used as a tool in election campaigns?
  • How does “big” data make life better? How does “big “ data provide challenges in regard to personal information?
  • What is Facebook? Is it different than other social sites?

From The “Facebook Effect” Educator Guide (KQED Education)

  • Who is Mark Zuckerberg? Who is Sheryl Sandberg?
  • What is Data Analytics?
  • What is a breach of trust?
  • Should government regulate social media sites? Should the social media sites regulate themselves?
  • What is privacy? What are the concerns for privacy when using social media? What is a reasonable expectation of privacy?
  • Why does this matter to students? To everyone?
  • Why do you use Facebook (or, why DON’T you use it)?
  • Why is Facebook so popular? Why do so many people like using it?
  • Overall, are Facebook and other social media sites good for the world? Why/why not?
  • What are some risks about posting personal information about yourself on social media sites?
  • What are some pros and cons about receiving personally catered advertisements?
  • How different would your life be without access to social media sites like Facebook?
  • How different would your life be without any social media (no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter, etc.).

From “Oregon State Attorney General Demands Answers From Facebook” (article listed under OREGON)

  • Were [Facebook user] terms of service clear and understandable?
  • How did Facebook monitor what these developers did with all the data that they collected?
  • What type of controls did Facebook have over the data given to developers?
  • Did Facebook have protective safeguards in place, including audits, to ensure developers were not misusing the Facebook user’s data?
  • How many users in the states of the signatory Attorneys General were impacted?
  • When did Facebook learn of this breach of privacy protections?
  • During this timeframe, what other third party “research” applications were also able to access the data of unsuspecting Facebook users?


Background and More

Facebook, Google, your reign may soon be over, by Fareed Zakaria, The Washington Post, March 22, 2018
“Change is likely to come from two directions. Regulatory action in the West will give more control to the individual. The European Union has established rules, which will go into effect on May 25, that will make it much easier for people to know how their data is being used and to limit that use. It is likely that the United States will follow suit.”
CLP: Opinion

7 Psychological Reasons Why It’s So Hard to Just “Delete Facebook”, by S. Shyam Sundar, Bingjie Liu, Carlina Dirusso, & Michael Krieger, Science Alert, March 29 2018
“Decades of research has shown that our relationship with all media, whether movies, television or radio, is symbiotic: People like them because of the gratifications they get from consuming them – benefits like escapism, relaxation and companionship. The more people use them, the more gratifications they seek and obtain.”

How Big Data Mines Personal Info to Craft Fake News and Manipulate Voters, by Nina Burleigh, Newsweek, June 8, 2017
“Big Data, artificial intelligence and algorithms designed and manipulated by strategists like the folks at Cambridge have turned our world into a Panopticon, the 19th-century circular prison designed so that guards, without moving, could observe every inmate every minute of every day.”
CLP: Long article, but good information on history of media and propaganda.

9 HR Analytics terms you should know, by Erik van Vulpen, AIHR
“When we talk about HR data analytics, we use words such as machine learning, algorithms and data mining. However, do we actually know the meaning of these terms? To be honest, the first time I heard them, I didn’t… This blog goes into some commonly used HR analytics terms.”

Cambridge Analytica took 50M Facebook Users’ Data – And Both Companies Owe Answers, by Issie Lapowsky, Wired, March 17, 2018
“Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis firm that worked on President Trump’s 2016 campaign, and its related company, Strategic Communications Laboratories, pilfered data on 50 million Facebook users and secretly kept it, according to reports in The New York Times, alongside The Guardian and The Observer. The apparent misuse of Facebook data—and the social media giant’s failure to police it—leave both companies with plenty still to answer for.”


Lesson Plans

The “Facebook Effect” Educator Guide, News Education, KQED
CLP: High school

Lesson Plan: Data, Privacy and Identity on Facebook, by Reinhard Mueller, Digital Writing & Research Lab, November 9, 2016
CLP: High school, but could be modified for middle school


Constitutional and Legal Connections

Social Networking and the Fourth Amendment: Location Tracking on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, by Lisa A. Schmidt, Cornell
“Popular social networking websites Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare allow users to keep others aware of their location at all times, leading to the question of whether the government may track a user’s location through social networking use. The author argues that past Fourth Amendment case law warns social networking users that the government may track location through tags and check-ins, and Internet users may not have the standing to raise a privacy claim for such tracking.”
CLP: Long and technical, but has some great chunks to pull out to use with students

The Supreme Court Just Protected Your Right to Facebook, by Issie Lapowsky, Wired, June 19, 2017
“While the court’s decision may set certain parameters for governments looking to restrict people’s online access, it has no bearing on what companies like Facebook and Twitter can do. As private companies, they are already free to ban anyone who violates their terms of service, whether by posting sexually explicit content or engaging in terrorist activity.”
CLP: Facebook and the First Amendment

Is high school student speech protected on social media?, by Scott Bomboy, Constitution Daily, March 20, 2018
“The basic Supreme Court decisions that draw free-speech lines for public high school and secondary schools students date back more than 30 years – to a time when the commercial Internet, yet alone Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, didn’t exist. A few recent federal court decisions below the Supreme Court level show divided opinions about what students can say on social media when they aren’t physically at school.”


Oregon & the Northwest

Oregon State Attorney General Demands Answers From Facebook, by Jamie Parfitt,, March 27, 2018
“In a letter addressed directly to Zuckerberg, the Attorneys General obliquely reference recent revelations about consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, who have come under intense scrutiny for their apparent misuse of Facebook user data.”


Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.8 Evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives.
8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
8.27 Examine the various characteristics, causes, and effects of an event, issue, or problem.
8.28 Investigate a response or solution to an issue or problem and support or oppose, using research.
HS.1 Evaluate continuity and change over the course of world and United States history.
HS.2 Analyze the complexity and investigate causes and effects of significant events in world, U.S., and Oregon history.
HS.9 Identify historical and current events, issues, and problems when national interests and global interest have been in conflict, and analyze the values and arguments on both sides of the conflict.
HS. 30. Analyze the roles and activities of political parties, interest groups and mass media and how they affect the beliefs and behaviors of local, state, and national constituencies.
HS.57 Define, research, and explain an event, issue, problem or phenomenon and its significance to society.
HS.58 Gather, analyze, use and document information from various sources, distinguishing facts, opinions, inferences, biases, stereotypes, and persuasive appeals.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.
HS.61 Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon, identifying characteristics, influences, causes, and both short- and long-term effects.
HS.63. Engage in informed and respectful deliberation and discussion of issues, events, and ideas.


We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 5, Lesson 23: How does the Constitution protect freedom of expression?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 29: What are the rights and responsibilities of citizenship?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 6, Lesson 37: What key challenges does the United States face in the future?