19 March 2018 - 50 million Facebook Profiles Harvested for Cambridge Analytica in Major Data Breach
How Cambridge Analytica turned Facebook ‘likes’ into a lucrative political tool
Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison (The Guardian, 17/03/2018)
The algorithm at the heart of the Facebook data breach sounds almost too dystopian to be real. It trawls through the most apparently trivial, throwaway postings –the “likes” users dole out as they browse the site – to gather sensitive personal information about sexual orientation, race, gender, even intelligence and childhood trauma.
A few dozen “likes” can give a strong prediction of which party a user will vote for, reveal their gender and whether their partner is likely to be a man or woman, provide powerful clues about whether their parents stayed together throughout their childhood and predict their vulnerability to substance abuse. And it can do all this without an need for delving into personal messages, posts, status updates, photos or all the other information Facebook holds.
Some results may sound more like the result of updated online sleuthing than sophisticated data analysis; “liking” a political campaign page is little different from pinning a poster in a window.
How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions
Matthew Rosenberg, Nicholas Confessore and Carole Cadwalladr (The New York Times, 17/03/2018)
As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem.
The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.
So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.
Data scandal is huge blow for Facebook – and efforts to study its impact on society
Olivia Solon (The Guardian, 18/03/2018)
The revelation that 50 million people had their Facebook profiles harvested so Cambridge Analytica could target them with political ads is a huge blow to the social network that raises questions about its approach to data protection and disclosure.
As Facebook executives wrangle on Twitter over the semantics of whether this constitutes a “breach”, the result for users is the same: personal data extracted from the platform and used for a purpose to which they did not consent.
Facebook has a complicated track record on privacy. Its business model is built on gathering data. It knows your real name, who your friends are, your likes and interests, where you have been, what websites you have visited, what you look like and how you speak.
Mark Zuckerberg Told to 'Stop Hiding Behind his Facebook Page' After Reports of Data Breach
Jill Lawless (Time Magazine, 18/03/2018)
Lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic criticized Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, after reports surfaced that another company, Cambridge Analytica, improperly harvested information from 50 million Facebook users.
A British lawmaker accused Facebook on Sunday of misleading officials by downplaying the risk of users’ data being shared without their consent.
Conservative legislator Damian Collins, who heads the British Parliament’s media committee, said he would ask Zuckerberg or another Facebook executive to appear before his panel, which is investigating disinformation and “fake news.”