Facebook needs to answer trust worries

Subhead

Social media giant needs better checks or stronger oversight

Body

Facebook is, once again, in the media for highly suspect practices. This week, Cambridge Analytica — a U.K. political data firm with Russian connections — is accused of having access to the user data of 50 million users of the social media platform, and manipulating that data to target unsuspecting voters for political gain.

In a nutshell, Facebook had little oversight on how user data flowed to third-party application developers. That let app developers get access to Facebook user profiles, including friends, hometowns, education, careers, birthdays, photos, relationship statuses, religious and political leanings. Cambridge Analytica found a weak spot and exploited it to the fullest.

Add that to the continued episodes of meddling by Russian forces and the social media giant could literally have been manipulated to determine the outcome of our national elections. For what was originally conceived as a fun way to keep up with friends and family, that’s extremely troubling. And top intelligence leaders say it is likely to continue well past the 2018 midterm elections.

Yet USA Today pointed out how these big social media platform bosses put themselves above the rules. CEOs of tobacco companies were subpoenaed to testify to Congress in 1994. In 2001, airline CEOs had to testify about the 9/11 attacks, and bank executives had to sit before Congressional committees in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

But when Congress called Facebook, Twitter and Google executives to testify about Russia invading our