Federal investigators have begun probing Facebook’s use of personal data after reports surfaced that Cambridge Analytica ‘improperly gained access to the data of more than 50 million users.’
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether the use of personal data from 50 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica violated a consent decree the tech company signed with the agency in 2011, Bloomberg reported Monday. […]
“We are aware of the issues that have been raised but cannot comment on whether we are investigating. We take any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously as we did in 2012 in a privacy case involving Google,” a spokesman for the FTC said Tuesday.
A violation of the consent decree could carry a penalty of $40,000 per violation, which could mean a fine conservatively estimated to be “many millions of dollars in fines” for Facebook, The Washington Post reported over the weekend, citing a former FTC official.
“We reject any suggestion of violation of the consent decree. We respected the privacy settings that people had in place. Privacy and data protections are fundamental to every decision we make,” the social network giant said in a statement to the Washington Post over the weekend.
Despite the media hoopla, reports of parties improperly obtaining Facebook user data is not a new phenomenon.
On Sunday, a former Obama campaign official admitted that Facebook allowed the Obama campaign to mine data from the social media giant because “they were on our side.”
Independent Journal Review reported:
In a Sunday tweet thread, Carol Davidson, former director of integration and media analytics for Obama for America, said the 2012 campaign led Facebook to “suck out the whole social graph” and target potential voters. They would then use that data to do things like append their email lists.
In response to the controversy, Anand Giridharadas, author of the book Winners Take All, savaged Zuckerberg. Giridharadas warned that the Facebook CEO will go down in history as a tragic figure.
Giridharadas: “Mark Zuckerberg will go down in history as a tragic figure, and one befitting an age of billionaire savior delusions. He claimed to change the world even as he maimed his country. He pledged to rid the world of diseases while ignoring the disease he was spreading. He embodies every tendency I have tried to take on in @WinnersTakeAll. The Silicon Valley pretense of not being powerful, and therefore responsible, of just being an empowerer of others. The fantasy of the businessman-as-thinker that allows a man like him to become, in his own mind, a philosopher, a sage prophesying the new world instead of just another self-interested businessman like the rest of them. The figure who pretends to be merely predicting a future that he is in fact ruthlessly fighting for, a future that is asphyxiating to many people and industries and communities.
The preposterousness of doing your day job cynically, corruptly, monopolistically, without regard for the public good, while very publicly and very ceremoniously donating some of the profits from that ruthlessness to “saving” humanity. The absurdity of purporting, because you started a dorm-room social network, to be a leader of mankind and solver of its problems, when you are, in fact, a moral debtor who in many ways should be asking for your society’s mercy.
Two and a half years ago, when I started reporting and writing @WinnersTakeAll, people were aghast that I would take on people like Zuck who seemed to be doing so much good. Now we all know. We are living in a collective fantasy that the people who cause our problems are the best at solving them. That is how Zuck ends up being a leader of rethinking the news after eviscerating it. How he can position himself as a force for democratization while corrupting democracy.”