Public trust in Facebook fades in light of privacy concerns

The recent privacy scandals regarding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are starting to take a toll on the company’s reputation. Reuters reports that recently released polls taken in the United States and Germany indicate that a majority of the public has lost faith in the company’s ability or desire to protect their privacy.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, which was released on Sunday, less than half the American public trust Facebook to obey laws regarding privacy. This loss of trust was largely motivated by the recently revealed scandals surrounding Cambridge Analytica.

The social network fares little better in Germany, where a poll conducted by Bild am Sonntag, the country’s most popular Sunday paper, found that 60 percent of Germans consider Facebook and other social media outlets to have a negative impact upon democracy.

The fears regarding Facebook’s impact on democracy are likely due in part to the spread of fake news stories that appeared on Facebook during the U.S. 2016 presidential elections. It was later found that Russian operatives were active on Facebook during the lead up to the Brexit vote, which saw the U.K. vote to leave the European Union.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has since issued an apology for Facebook’s handling of the situation, and the company has taken out several ads in various newspapers around the world.

“We have a responsibility to protect your information,” the advert reads. “If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.”

In addition the public apology, Facebook has said that it is taking steps to ensure that such things do not occur in the future. It will be conducting reviews thousands of apps which appear on the platform and perform audits on any of them that displays “suspicious activity.”

The app which started this whole mess was a simple quiz called “thisisyourdigitallife.” It was downloaded by roughly 270,000 people. When consenting to the download, users allowed the app to gain access to information regarding their home town and what kind of content they had liked on Facebook. The app then gathered similar information from their friends and then their friends’ friends. In total, about 50 million people were affected by the app.

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