It was during my summer internship I heard the terms above the line and below the line. The instructor made of think of a situation that was brought upon us but was not of our own doing. Then he made us reflect on the thought process that was going on at that moment. Most of us reflected asking why does it have to be us or let’s just leave the task now. The instructor said that this type of thinking is below line thinking. We pass the blame to someone, blame our circumstances which directly affects what you do. And How you do anything is how you do everything.
Then what does above the line means?
In a simple sentence its taking complete ownership of the job.
It’s hard to measure this mentality for an individual however the same cannot be said for an entity managed by hundreds of people.
For the behemoths who principally shape the world around us, we expect them to show a certain degree of responsibility. Take the case of Facebook and privacy breach of millions of users by Cambridge Analytica. Facebook was responsible for keeping the data safe that was the bare minimum expected. So how did Analytics manage to pull it off?
Have you ever taken a quiz on Facebook that purported to predict which ousted Arab spring ruler you are? Which city you should live in, or which Hogwarts house you belong to, or something equally inane? After completing the quiz, have you shared it in your timeline and encouraged your friends to take a similar quiz? Congratulations, you have been leaking your data to Cambridge Analytica and of course, we can’t forget Russia!
So FB wasn’t directly involved or was it?
Through 2015 Facebook had actually been ramping up its internal focus on elections as a revenue-generating opportunity — growing the headcount of staff working directly with politicians to encourage them to use its platform and tools for campaigning. So it can hardly claim it wasn’t aware of the value of user data for political targeting.
Yet in November 2016 Zuckerberg publicly rubbished the idea that fake news spread via Facebook could influence political views — calling it a “pretty crazy idea”. This at the same time as Facebook the company was embedding its own staff with political campaigns to help them spread election messages.
This lack of ownership had a drastic effect on the lives of many and even who becomes Commander in Chief of the Army. Post-scandal after facing the lot of backlash FB is taking ownership of its actions.
This has been reflected in the upcoming general elections in India.
The social network, which counts India as the largest market by users, has written an email on December 8 to individual advertisers and agencies that they must provide scanned copies of address and identify proofs, which will be verified with visits by its India-based team.
Alternatively, advertisers could opt for Facebook to send a verification code by post, akin to what it did in the US during the recent mid-term elections. This is for the first time that the social network would be adopting a “feet on the street” approach, owing to the unique challenges India represents as a political advertising market.
As we move to a data-centric world it has become now more than important to protect our privacy for the companies for whom it is like an oilfield. One small matchstick can move the company towards insolvency.