News & Information

A Data Scientist's View of the Facebook Breach

Top of Mind with Julie Rose
  • Mar 21, 2018 11:00 pm
  • 16:06

Guest: Quinn Snell, PhD, Professor of Computer Science and Data Systems, Brigham Young University Investigations by Congress and the Federal Trade Commission are underway into just how a data consulting firm in the UK called Cambridge Analytica got its hands on the basic profile information and “likes” of tens of millions of Facebook users and what it did with that data. A whistleblower says the firm used it to try and sway people in support of Donald Trump during the 2016 election. Facebook says a Cambridge University researcher misled them about what he planned to do with the data he was collecting through a personality test app he created on the site.  Was this a security breach? A hack? A door left open by Facebook intentionally, or by accident? The investigations are ongoing, but let’s get the perspective of a data scientist. Quinn Snell is a professor of computer science and big data systems here at BYU. He’s not involved in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, but he does a lot of work with data through social media sites and trains students to do it, too.