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Is Rankware the next Cambridge Analytica?

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It is hard to find someone not informed about the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica. The company analyzed Facebook users’ data to predict their behaviors and create highly targeted ads that could influence public opinions and voting patterns. Facebook took a long time to finally respond to the crisis. However, now, the next similar scandal may be revealed.

On May 10, 2019, Facebook filed a lawsuit against Rankware. The company, based in South Korea, gathers information about Facebook users and analyzes it to help their clients create ads targeting specific demographics.

As mentioned in the lawsuit, Facebook is accusing Rankware of using over 30 different applications to monitor, survey, and analyze user behaviors including likes and comments. This has led some to speculate that this could be another scandal as big as the Cambridge Analytica scandal as the scenario sounds eerily similar.

Facebook made the announcement in a statement that had the inconspicuous headline Enforcing Our Platform Polities:

“Today Facebook filed a lawsuit in California state court against Rankwave, a South Korean data analytics company that ran apps on the Facebook platform. Facebook was investigating Rankwave’s data practices in relation to its advertising and marketing services. Rankwave failed to cooperate with our efforts to verify their compliance with our policies, which we require of all developers using our platform.

Facebook has already suspended apps and accounts associated with Rankwave, and today’s suit asks the court to enforce the basic cooperation terms that Rankwave agreed to in exchange for the opportunity to operate apps on the platform.

By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message to developers that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies, including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation.”

The timing of this lawsuit is certainly unfavorable for the tech giant. The company faces scrutiny on all fronts. Facebook may be forced to pay a multi-billion-dollar fine in the US as well as £500,000 fine in the UK. Mark Zuckerberg has been under pressure from investors, politicians, and the public for his slow response to the ongoing crisis related to Cambridge Analityca.

Mr. Zuckerberg stated during his Senate hearing in April 2018 that tech companies require regulations. He reinforced his statement on May 10, 2019, during his interview with a French TV channel after meeting Emmanuel Macron, the president of France.

Facebook and its policies

As FTC urges the Senate to increase the potential fine from $3 billion to $5 billion in order to set a precedent and notify tech giants that scandals like the one involving Facebook and Cambridge Analityca will not go unnoticed, Facebook reassures their users and investors that the company is ready to enforce their policies.

Facebook stated that they have been investigating whether Rankware used malevolent practices in their marketing and business efforts. After conducting a thorough investigation, the tech giant decided to make their move and file a lawsuit.

The problem is that Rankware used their apps to access and analyze Facebook users’ behaviors in 2018 and, maybe, even 2017. Responding to the violation of corporate policies year late is not something a responsible company should be doing to protect users and their personal information.

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