Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm that specializes in political consulting and helped out on the Trump campaign as well as Brexit, was just suspended from Facebook for misusing data in targeted ad campaigns.
We're glad Facebook took action, but we want the Department of Justice to investigate the situation as well. Violating user privacy deserves more than a slap on the wrist!
Cambridge Analytica obtained private user information through an app developed by a third party who was paid to assist the firm. 270,000 users downloaded the app, which accessed their data with their permission under the terms of service, but data for millions more was harvested through the friends of these users. Data about people, their likes and interests, and political inclinations may have been used in political ads targeting voters, ultimately having an influence on the 2016 election.
Here's the really gross thing: Facebook knew Cambridge Analytica had information it wasn't supposed to as early as 2015, when it asked the company to destroy the data. A whistleblower says that didn't happen, though the company insists it complied with Facebook's earlier request.
Why did Facebook take so long to act, even knowing that this was a risk? Whose data was scraped and used in electioneering by Cambridge Analytica? Does Facebook adequately inform users about how their data might be used? These are all questions we need answers to, given concerns about the misuse of Facebook and other technology during the election.
The European Commission has already announced that it will be investigating Cambridge Analytica. Please sign this petition to make sure the Department of Justice follows suit!
Photo Credit: U.S. State Department