Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, the 2016 Election, and a colossal misappropriation of social media data

Update – March 21, 2018 via Mark Zukerberg posting on FB: “I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we’ve already taken and our next steps to address this important issue. We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it…In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge AnalyticaLast week, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified. We immediately banned them from using any of our services….” [We certainly owe many thanks to The Guardian!]

News about the growing treasure trove of documents, interviews, videos and corporate communications linking a mountain of high profile news stories together – Facebook CEO Zuckerberg’s disappearing act, Cambridge Analytica’s ‘harvesting’ of 50 million FB users’ data [without permission – and directed by Steve Bannon] which helped explain the role that the company played when it was embedded with the Trump campaign in 2016]; the Mueller investigation, the Comey book, the McCabe firing, and the weather (happy Spring – enjoy Washington’s biggest snowstorm of the season) is yet to reach a crescendo, so hang in there. Along with the impact of the DC area snow storm on the budget funding deadline, we are also waiting for Facbook’s official response to yet another ‘breach’ of trust and misuse of customer data, and more evidence about how the social media data of tens of millions of users was appropriated and used by a UK conglomerate that has some very troubling involvement in recent elections in the US and UK and beyondand it use of self destructing email to cover its trail.

I posted over a dozen references and sources on this issue when it began to break, and I use the word ‘began’ cautiously. The massive, unmonitored [dubbed harvesting] collection of social media user data by third parties for marketing and campaigning purposes is far greater than users of various applications have been willing to address, or even attempt to mitigate against future harvesting efforts [if they have any capability of doing so in the first place – which remains unclear]. This premise stands completely separate from the concept of any regulatory function or layer that may exist between users and the companies, here and abroad, that acquire our data (often at no cost at all) and use it until such time that a whistleblower or two enter from stage left and lift the curtain on all the backend techie sausage making. A healthy respect for privacy, civil liberties and democracy will engage me to continue to track the inevitable waves that will continue to break here and around the world as it may actually bring some clarity to the cacophony of conflicting and now overlapping stories that have been expanding out of their respective lanes to create a larger and possibly more overarching set of facts, and maybe, some conclusions?

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.