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Everything You Need to Know About The Facebook Cambridge Analytica Scandal

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Cambridge Analytica

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal is dominating the news. From Elon Musk to Keith Weed, experts in the industry have been keeping a close eye on the story’s development around the globe. So, how did the scandal come to be and where is it going from here?

A Tale of Two Lawsuits

The giant scandal engulfing Facebook and user privacy has made lesser-known Cambridge Analytica a household name. Cambridge Analytica is a British, data-driven, political consulting company. Cambridge Analytica contracted Kogan GSR to harvest data from Facebook users via an application called This Is Your Digital Life.

The application was created in 2014 and banned in 2015 from Facebook when they realized that Kogan “lied” about the utilization of their harvested data. They reportedly ordered Kogan and all parties given access to that data to delete it.

There are two lawsuits raging against SCL Group (CA’s parent company), Kogan GSR and Facebook in the UK and US. The lawsuit in the UK is by Jason McCue, who alleges that the defendants abused the human right to privacy.

The case aims to ensure that violation of privacy will not happen again in the future, specifically the extraction of names, phone numbers, mail and email addresses, religious and political affiliations and other data.

About 270,000 users installed Kogan’s application to take a personality quiz, so why is the number 70 million affected? The permissions on the application allowed Kogan to collect data from friends of the 270,000 users who took the quiz.

While these users’ willingly gave out personal information, Kogan claimed the information would have an academic application. The lawsuit asserts the information was, in fact, used for commercial and political services. The 70 million user figure only covers those affected in the US. worldwide, that number is estimated to be almost 87 million, with over 1 million in the UK alone.

The US-based lawsuit puts the pressure on Facebook. Lead Counsel for the case, Robert Ruyak places heavy blame on Facebook, stating that Facebook failed to secure the personal information of millions of its users, in addition to failing to take appropriate action even when aware of this failure.

The Current Pulse of Litigation

Cambridge Analytica

In the past few weeks, there has been an influx of memes associated with Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg is testifying in the US lawsuit though refused the UK’s request to interview for their lawsuit. The US lawsuit is still ongoing and continues to generate more questions than answers.

The affair also highlights how out of touch many in Congress are with current technologies, with videos of aging Congressmen struggling to understand some of Zuckerberg’s tech-based answers and reply in kind. In the UK, the Cambridge Analytica and Kogan investigation is also ongoing.

An Uncertain Future for Facebook Stocks

Facebook saw its first downgrade since January this Wednesday. Stocks fell 1.7%. However, the company has seen an overall increase of 3.9% in its stock since the scandal broke in mid-March.

With a lack of consumer confidence, both companies are not as enticing to veteran investors as they once were.

A Leaderless Organization

News first broke about the scandal via the New York Times on March 17, 2018. A Channel 4 news video leaked the following Monday, adding further evidence to the claims asserted. The video produced footage of CA’s CEO, Alexander Nix, seemingly engaging in illegal political techniques such as entrapment.

Nix was suspended the following day and recently stepped down from the CEO position. Alexander Taylor, CA’s chief data officer, sat down as quickly as he stood up to take the CEO position, serving only a few days. It is unclear who will lead the company during this tumultuous time. Alexander Nix refused parliament’s request to testify, showing additional distaste from the general public.

The Future of Digital Privacy

There is an aura of doubt clouding the general public’s faith that Facebook will take preventative actions to ensure a data breach of this level does not occur again. Many wonder how Silicon Valley’s brightest minds could let a mistake this large pervade its data for over a year. More importantly, Facebook did not alert authorities to the morally gray and illegal data collection.

With scandals like Equifax’s 2017 data breach still fresh, the public sees an unwillingness for companies to take responsibility. The unspoken protocol of these breaches appears to err on the side of deception rather than transparency. Equifax was aware of their breach, which exposed nearly half of the US population’s personal financial information, weeks ahead of the news breaking.

Additionally, the company sought to turn a profit by offering data-protection services after the incident. Even more frustrating, is that the only recourse for consumers affected was to freeze their credit and to unfreeze credit comes with fees.

Facebook

The lack of accountability and transparency means that these data breaches could simply be warning signs of far larger scandals to follow.

When companies are unwilling to make ethical decisions, it’s ideal that laws enter the creation process to ensure the safety of the public. A bipartisan effort is on the way in the US to give power back to the consumer. In a country where regulation is a dirty word, it’s unclear how this effort will be received.

On the tech, innovation side come solutions from a forgotten class of researchers: tech privacy experts. An unglamorous field is now finding itself at the center of fixing a growing problem.

A peer-to-peer decentralized internet (first introduced to the non-tech obsessed via the HBO show Silicon Valley), strong advertising blockers, information fiduciaries (whose purpose is to protect users’ data) and better encryption techniques are all points of notable research. May their innovation spawn a new era of data privacy.

The on-demand economy continues to grow quickly and with it comes many avenues for illicit data collection. There is a struggle to balance convenience with privacy. Tech privacy experts are working to ensure their solutions mesh well with consumers’ expectations for efficiency.

Flailing Confidence

Facebook’s rise as a tech giant may be in jeopardy. Their business model is strongly based on consumer trust. Zuckerberg’s decision not to alert authorities deny a request from parliament, his evasiveness in his testimony with Congress and his negative public image (he’s frequently touted as overly robotic and was presented unfavorably in The Social Network) has generated contempt from many consumers.

The #deletefacebook hashtag also gained organic momentum. For a company dependent on users for profit, a tall order for their public relations team is in store.

Kayla Matthews is a tech journalist and writer whose work has been featured on The Week, VICE and MakeUseOf. Read more posts by Kayla on productivitybytes.com.

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5 Ways To Create An Amazing Employee Experience

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There is no perfect formula when it comes to running a business and managing employees. Every environment is different from the next and each employee should be treated in a unique way. If you survey 100 employees about the things that would motivate them to quit a job the majority would point to management in some aspect. In order to avoid some of the missteps that come with maintaining an employer to employee relationship, you must know what your employees need. These 5 tips are going to provide valuable information into creating an amazing employee experience:

Communication/Employees Being Heard

The most important aspect of any relationship is to communicate effectively. Communication helps to avoid small issues that can snowball into bigger issues. It is imperative that employees are not only kept in the loop, but are provided clarity when miscommunication issues arise. Miscommunication at work can turn into a game of telephone and spawn untrue rumors that can spiral. In addition to keeping an open line of communication with management, employees must feel that they are being heard. It can be very frustrating when you have ideas that you want to be heard but feel dismissed by management. This calls for a bad employee experience. Dialogue is healthy, so keep talking.

Utilize skills correctly

Any successful business person will tell you that many times resources are not as important as how you utilize them. The same goes with the people that are helping to grow and operate your brand. You can have as many good people on your team as possible, it is pointless if they are not being utilized based on their strengths. Some people may fear being outshined or having their employees outgrow the company, but it will do the opposite. If everyone is allowed to flourish by doing what they are best at, you may unlock growth in the company and the employees that you didn’t know was possible. Pushing people to discover their full potential will benefit you because everyone will be putting their best foot forward.

Flexibility

Many people have demanding schedules outside of work that don’t necessarily allow them to adopt conventional schedules at work. When employees are not allowed the flexibility to attend to things outside of work it can affect them negatively at work. Of course, people are responsible for managing their time effectively as adults, but every occurrence cannot be planned for. Allowing remote work, or even telecommuting which is becoming a growing trend, employees can better manage their schedule around work. This eliminates certain stressors that can affect time at work, morale, or even home life. Everyone has to sacrifice certain things when taking on a full-time commitment, however employers have the ability to make things a bit easier.

Positive Culture

A fun, positive culture is necessary to keep up morale at work. Team building exercises, keeping everyone in the loop, even respectful disagreements are all healthy in workplace culture and creates a positive employee experience. Some people spend more time in their office or workspace, then they do at home, meaning your employees should enjoy their time at work. Spending the majority of the day with people that you barely know or don’t get along with affects work performance as well. Employers must realize that you can have the most beautiful office space, the largest salaries, etc but if your team is not clicking you’re going backwards. Sometimes stepping back from work in an outside environment can help people to get to know each other in a different, more relaxed way.

Challenging Work

Nobody wants to be bored at work or feel as though their job is meaningless. It is important to make sure that employees feel challenged and look forward to coming to work. Not feeling challenged can cause employees to lose motivation, which can directly result in declining performance due to the negative employee experience. A domino effect, which can be avoided by communicating with employees about what can make them better. Growth is a critical component to forward movement in life. If employees feel that the work is complacent they will start to become complacent. Implement incentives, have friendly competitions, make things interesting so that boredom is not an option!

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Ways To Reinforce Your Brand

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Branding is what separates your company from other businesses. If you think about brands like Coca-Cola or Apple, they have logos that are instantly recognizable around the world. Many businesses want to know the secrets of companies like these to make their brands instantly identifiable. Here are great ways to reinforce your brand and be well-known in the industry.

 

Newsletters

Communicating with clients and customers through newsletters is not just a great way to let them know what’s going on, but it can also help reinforce your brand to them. Using fonts, logos, colors, and images is a good way to promote your company’s products and services.

When using newsletters, do not forget to include your tagline, social media handles, and links to platforms that are used to showcase your business. Your tagline should reinforce what you want the company to accomplish, while your color scheme and logo should remain consistent so that they will become recognizable over time.

 

Social Media

Social media is not just for staying connected with your college buddies. It can also be used to leverage your business and marketing platform so that your brand gets recognition. Social media is also a great way to reach out to your customer base to let them know what’s going on or to build a relationship with them. By making yourself available to them in websites like Facebook or YouTube, you will be able to respond to their needs. Feedback can be used not only to improve marketing and branding efforts, but also products and services.

 

Implement Your Brand

Having a logo designed can be expensive. However, studies show that people’s memories are visual, which is why you should invest in one that is professionally designed. Aside from logos, businesses should also be consistent in their use of color. Your customers should be able to identify your product or service by color alone. For example, purple is usually associated with Cadbury chocolates, while red and white is for Coca-Cola.

 

Be Consistent

The use of your logo and colors should be consistent across all media. Use it for your website, company stationery, business cards, work vehicles, and products. Being consistent will give you more venues to reinforce your brand.

Aside from visual stimulation, your business also has to be consistent in other areas. Customer care, for example, has to be consistent in how they answer questions. All communication with customers should be helpful and provide value. Marketing campaigns should also reflect the company’s core values.

Over time, your business will undergo rebranding. When this happens, make sure that all your materials are updated and cohesive. For example, your newsletter or Facebook page should be up to date, not only with the latest news, but with the new logo design as well.  

 

Personal Touch

The holidays are one of the best ways to reinforce your brand. Send your greetings by giving clients and suppliers holiday cards. This can be archaic, but it is personal, which is greatly appreciated by many. You can make the card humorous and add handwritten notes so recipients know that you took the time to express your appreciation.

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Ways To Prevent Boredom At Work

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Everybody has days when you can’t wait until 5 o’clock and go home. You feel like you’re sluggishly moving along and everything about work has become routine. There is no adventure, no excitement. In other words, you’re bored out of your mind and it’s only 11 am. Preventing boredom at work can greatly increase your productivity and improve your daily experience.

Make Your Cubicle Less Boring

It starts with your cubicle. Your surroundings can greatly affect your mood. If your cubicle looks drab, then you’re probably uninspired, which can lead to boredom. Jazz it up a bit with some exciting decorations. Change your desktop screen to a motivational image, buy comfortable and ergonomically correct chairs so that you’re sitting up straight, or add a small potted plant or two for some greenery.

Fight Exhaustion

Sometimes it’s not really boredom, but tiredness. Why are you tired? Maybe it’s because you didn’t get your 8 hours last night or maybe you’re not properly rested. Eating and sleeping right can have a big impact on you how to feel when at work. Taking better care of yourself can lead to better performance and less boredom.

Challenge Yourself

The best way to get out of a funk is to challenge yourself to become better. Setting the bar higher and creating challenges for you to accomplish can make you feel inspired. This will not only boost your self-confidence but your performance too, which can earn you serious brownie points in the office.

Become an Overachiever

Becoming an overachiever will give you something to do all the time. If you keep challenging yourself, taking the initiative or thinking outside the box, it will keep your attention and keep you engaged. There’s no time to be bored because you’re always up to something.

New Responsibilities

If you feel like your usual responsibilities are not enough to keep you occupied, perhaps a set of new responsibilities will keep you on your toes. Negotiating a change in your job description can make things more interesting for you.

Learn A New Skill

Skills are great because you can’t unlearn them, they stay with you forever. Learning a new skill that is beneficial to the company is a great way to improve yourself. You can learn a new skill at work by listening to educational podcasts or you can use personal breaks for self-improvement like learning a new language. However, be aware of company policy when it comes to pursuing learning project while on the clock before actually doing them.

Take Browsing Breaks

Seriously. When you’re bored you’re tempted to surf the web if only for entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with this, just as long as you don’t go overboard. In fact, studies show that taking browsing breaks can increase productivity. It’s hard to concentrate on work 8 hours straight. Take browsing breaks; just remember to use them wisely.

Quit

There are times when boredom is just part of the job and we have to deal with it. However, there are also times when boredom means that you’re in a soul-crushing job, and it’s time to call it quits. If you’re constantly underperforming or if you don’t want your boss’ job, it’s probably time to throw in the towel and find a new job.

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