2018 was a year marked by privacy scandals in the tech sector. These scandals, which were the focus of much media attention and government scrutiny, have helped to make issues of online privacy and data security a point of greater concern for average consumers.
By now the general public has come to expect that data breaches can and will happen, and that hacking attempts by bad actors may sometimes leave their personal data exposed. The expectation, though, has previously been that such breaches were the result of accidental oversight or in some cases negligence, but that user data was not exposed or shared by design. However, the data scandals of 2018 saw the tech companies themselves come under fire for questionable privacy practices that were core to their very operation.
Among the big tech platforms, Facebook undoubtedly had the worst year, privacy-wise, in 2018. The company has been dogged by the bad press since the 2016 US presidential election when its role in the spread of disinformation and fake news came to light. Things went from bad to worse for the company when the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed that the data of up to 87 million users had been harvested by the consulting firm without user consent, broke early in 2018.
In other words, 2018 was the year the public was confronted by the fact that the social media platforms they love to spend time on were using their personal data in ways many consider to be unethical, and that sharing user data in this way had been, in some cases, a component of the platform’s business model.