Mozilla Pulls Ads From Facebook in Response to Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Mozilla Pulls Ads From Facebook in Response to Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Facebook’s headaches just keep piling up following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company’s stock price is dropping, and governments on both sides of the Atlantic are opening investigations. Now, Mozilla is pausing its advertising relationship with Facebook because, in its words, Mozilla wants what’s “good for the web and for people.” That’s a subtle yet effective burn, Mozilla.

Mozilla is a nonprofit firm known best for its stewardship of the Firefox web browser. It advertises the browser heavily on Facebook, but that won’t be the case going forward. It made the decision to stop running ads on Facebook following the revelation that UK-based consulting outfit Cambridge Analytica used a cache of 50 million Facebook profiles to influence the 2016 US election in support of Donald Trump. The data wasn’t “leaked” or “stolen” per se, but it was definitely misused. Facebook is to blame for letting it get out in the first place.

The Facebook data was allegedly used to target voters with a high degree of accuracy. At least, that’s how Cambridge Analytica sold its services to potential clients, which included Senator and former Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz in addition to Trump. Although it’s unclear how effective Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook-fueled targeting was, Mozilla still isn’t happy with the way Facebook operates.

According to Mozilla’s blog post, Facebook took action to limit how much data developers could access back in 2014. A lax data security policy is how Cambridge University Professor Aleksandr Kogan managed to get data on 50 million profiles from a survey filled out by a few hundred thousand users. However, Mozilla has evaluated the current state of Facebook’s privacy policy and has decided not to support Facebook for the time being.

We champion platforms and technologies that are good for the web *and* for people. We stand up for transparency & user control because they make the web healthier for us all.

That’s why we’re taking a break from Facebook.

More here: https://t.co/ofeyIwO1FN

— Mozilla (@mozilla) March 22, 2018

Mozilla says Facebook’s current privacy settings still leave users exposed to data collection, and that’s unacceptable. Facebook has pledged to take another look at its privacy settings, but it has not announced any specific changes yet. Mozilla won’t buy any more ads on the platform until it’s satisfied that users are protected. Mozilla even started a petition to get Facebook to take action.

This act is largely symbolic — Mozilla’s ad spending is hardly a blip on Facebook’s radar. However, it could spur other, bigger companies to pull their Facebook ads. Mozilla is generally seen as altruistic and on the side of users. This move could lead to a snowball effect that hurts Facebook in the one place that matters — the bottom line.

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