Platforms on Trial
These are tough times for digital platforms. The revelations in March 2018 that the political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica managed to access the personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users on the basis of an online quiz, and that this data was on-sold to third parties including Donald Trump’s 2016 US presidential election campaign, threw into sharp relief questions of trust in digital platforms. The Cambridge Analytica data breaches, carried by the Guardian based on the revelations of whistleblower Christopher Wylie, was the latest of many issues to arise for companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and other major social media companies over the past three years. For Facebook in particular, it marked the 15th occasion in the company’s history where its practices with regards to personal data have come into question, an issue strongly raised in Mark Zuckerberg’s two-day testimony in April before the US Congress.