Yesterday, Facebook’s stock tanked after it was revealed that they gave user data to a firm, Global Science Research(GSR), via an app. This data was then given to Cambridge Analytica, a firm that was working for Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The app not only gave GSR the data of the user who filled out the survey, but also that of all of the user’s friends without them knowing it. Some have noted a similar mining tool used by the Obama team, but they gathered information through their website (with permission from those who engaged) and the armies of volunteers, which was then matched with voter profiles. Yes, still a bit creepy, especially since the campaign boasted that they probably knew every single one of the 67+ million voters who supported President Obama in 2012.
Last night, footage was released of Cambridge Analytica’s top executives pitching dirty political tricks, like video of a candidate accepting a bribe, girls around the candidate’s house, and even good ole’ misinformation. The firm has denied ever using any of the tactics discussed and this isn’t necessarily earth-shattering news in the skulky world of nail biter campaigns, but it adds to the bad optics that both Facebook and Cambridge have reaped since Christopher Wylie, the brainchild of the firm, came forward to spill the inner workings of this company. Facebook certainly knew that something was up concerning user data given the sheer volume GSR was mining from the app MyPersonality. But we’re not going to discuss Cambridge. We’re discussing what many of you have noted on various social media platforms about the inherent left wing bias ingrained in the services. Well, one former data officer for the Obama campaign, Carol Davidsen, admitted that Facebook allowed them to break the rules because they were on their side.
First, she tweeted a Time magazine piece showing what the 2012 campaign did to gather information:
That’s because the more than 1 million Obama backers who signed up for the app gave the campaign permission to look at their Facebook friend lists. In an instant, the campaign had a way to see the hidden young voters. Roughly 85% of those without a listed phone number could be found in the uploaded friend lists. What’s more, Facebook offered an ideal way to reach them. “People don’t trust campaigns. They don’t even trust media organizations,” says Goff. “Who do they trust? Their friends.”
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