Facebook Inc. (FB) is in the midst of weathering the Cambridge Analytica storm. But the fallout already has begun.
Following the news that data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica harvested personal information from as many as 50 million Facebook users to influence elections in the U.S. and U.K., the hashtag "#DeleteFacebook" started trending across social media.
If you don't pay for the product you ARE the product. Facebook sells all of your information to the highest and lowest bidders. Why sell yourself so cheaply? #deleteFacebook— Donkey_OT (@Donkey_OT) March 17, 2018
Finally deleted my @facebook account. If you're angry about what facebook has done with our data then just #deletefacebook We all moved on from MySpace we can move on from facebook too. Remember we aren't the customers we are the product #CambridgeAnalytica— Eric (@ecarpen) March 17, 2018
#DeleteFacebook I removed the app from my phone a long time ago. Mobile data usage halved. Battery life massively increased. This alone is reason enough. But no longer having your data abused by scumbags like Trump? Priceless. Facebook is going MySpace and not before time.— Jim Gardner (@JimGardnerSNCLP) March 19, 2018
Congratulations to the newly Facebook-free people. Life goes on - with more time to focus on the good in your life and less hollow comparison. #DeleteFacebook— Sister Outrider (@ClaireShrugged) March 20, 2018
If you've thought about deleting your Facebook profile before but haven't gone through with it... today is a good day to do it ... #DeleteFacebook— Ant Stanley (@IamStan) March 18, 2018
Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan is said to have used an app on Facebook to gather information from 270,000 users who volunteered for a "personality test" on the site. Those volunteers also submitted permission for the quiz to access their friends' information, widening the net to as many as 50 million Facebook users.
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Kogan then allegedly shared that information with Cambridge Analytica, which in turn was said to have utilized it as a tool on behalf of then-candidate Donald Trump.
Just sent out a mass email to friends to #DeleteFacebook . Those bastards belong in prison.— Jeffy "Take this job and shove it!"the Thoyd (@JeffytheThoyd) March 18, 2018
If you use a free platform, to show off your entire life, to everyone you know, every five minutes, you shouldn't really be surprised when that data is used to mine you for marketing purposes ... doh #DeleteFacebook— AngryBritain.com (@AngryBritain) March 20, 2018
If people want to stop being spied upon they've first must tear up their loyalty cards to corporate entities. #DeleteFacebook— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) March 20, 2018
Suddenly now everyone cares about privacy. This is different - good different. #DeleteFacebook— Rosie Williams (@Info_Aus) March 20, 2018
I just deactivated my Facebook account! Are you with me? #DeleteFacebook. I put as my reason "other": CAMBRIDGE ANALYITICA.— Daniel D (Pennywise) �� (@dagenais) March 20, 2018
Embattled ride-sharing service Uber faced a similar reaction in January 2017, when the hashtag "#DeleteUber" took hold on social platforms. Users on Twitter called on their cohorts to delete the Uber app after the company faced accusations it intended to profit from a protest against President Trump's executive order banning refugees and immigrants from certain countries. That movement reportedly resulted in 200,000 deleted Uber accounts in the span of six days, according to The New York Times.
While social media exploded with Facebook criticism, Washington also offered its own calls to action. U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a bipartisan letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), calling on the committee to request testimony from CEOs at companies including Twitter Inc. (TWTR) and Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) .
"The lack of oversight on how data is stored and how political advertisements are sold raises concerns about the integrity of American elections as well as privacy rights," the letter stated. A hearing would help the Judicial Committee to understand "what is being done to protect Americans' data and limit abuse of the platforms, as well as to assess what measures should be taken before the next elections."
Facebook stock shed more than 6.7% of its value Monday, March 19, to register its biggest single-day decline since March 2014. Shares were lower 1.56% in early trading Tuesday, March 20.