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Facebook never earned your trust and now we're all paying the price

News reports have been swirling about Facebook (a company you know), Cambridge Analytica (a company you might not have heard of), and the 2016 United States presidential election. It's an important story, but I've observed a critical misunderstanding or miscasting of the discussion in many media outlets, even those that are supposed to be tech-savvy. You've maybe seen this story described as a "breach" or a "leak."

The reality is far more distressing: Facebook basically gave away our profile data. The company has always made all of this data available, it just never expected it to be used like this.

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and what happened

Cambridge Analytica is a data mining and analysis firm that specializes in delivering, to quote their mission statement, "Data-Driven Behavioral Change by understanding what motivates the individual and engaging with target audiences in ways that move them to action."

Which is to say, it uses profile data to tailor messaging and advertisements. This isn't a new concept — magazine, TV, and radio ads have long been customized to subscriber demographics. What's new is the breadth, depth, and precision of the targeting. The nature of the internet means that a huge amount of data about you is available for the taking, and you've given it all away.

Cambridge Analytica worked with the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump, using the data of 50 million Facebook users to target advertisements at voters that they believed to be receptive to the campaign's message. It was an effort unprecedented in politics, and how much it affected the vote is unanswerable. But there's little doubt there was an effect. But how did Cambridge Analytica get that much data?

How did the Trump campaign's digital operation get its hands on 50 million user profiles? Facebook basically gave away your info.

According to some excellent reporting by The New York Times, Cambridge Analytica built a personality survey app that required a Facebook log-in. That app was distributed by a compliant Cambridge University professor, who claimed the data would be used for research. This was entirely legal and in accordance with Facebook's policies and the profile settings of its users. That the data was passed from the professor to Cambridge Analytica was a mere violation of Facebook's developer agreement.

Around 270,000 Facebook users reportedly downloaded the survey app. So how did Cambridge Analytica harvest the data of some 50 million users? Because they were Facebook friends of people who downloaded the app.

How this happened

Facebook's policies and default privacy settings allow apps to collect massive amounts of profile data. That information is supposed to be used to provide you with a customized product; in reality, it's usually tailored advertisements. The most painful part is that we users opened the door to these apps — the user has to download the app and grant it permission to access their Facebook profile. It tells you right up front what data it wants access to.

Taking the survey required allowing access to your Facebook profile. Thanks to Facebook's default privacy settings (which only a small portion of users have changed) the survey app also pulled in the profile data of millions of Facebook friends. All of this data was forwarded to Cambridge Analytica, which rolled it up with data from other sources to build psychological profiles of potential voters.

Facebook is a business, but that business is not being a social network — the business is advertising.

Facebook says it cares about your privacy, but that's lip service. The company wants you to be just comfortable enough that you keep sharing. Facebook is a business, but that business is not being a social network — the business is advertising. The free social network that most Facebook users use is a conduit for collecting data and distributing ads. Facebook was designed to get you to hand over as much information and spend as much time on it as possible, all in order to deliver more and better-targeted ads.

How we got here

Years ago we, as a collective of internet users, made a grand bargain. Given the choice between paying for a subscription service or getting a service for free and dealing with ads, we chose free with ads. Except we paid with our data and we had no concept of its value. Facebook, Google, and others are all designed to gather more and more data, and they've become more and more effective at synthesizing that data and precisely targeting users. Google's free product is an incredible search engine, but the company logs all of those searches to build a profile of you and sell ads against that profile.

This is true of most companies built on a free service, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Spotify, even free tax preparation services. The real customer is whoever is buying your data or buying advertising slots based on your data.

If you're not paying for the product, then you are the real product.

That's just how the modern web works. What we've failed to grasp are the scope of all that data and its potential. But the people collecting it certainly did. They were playing a long game and they made it fun for users. We were happy to fill out our profiles, delighted to post about our interests, comfortable handing over our files, and just fine with logging our searches.

You know the phrase "knowledge is power"? In the twenty-first century, data is power, and whoever controls it writes the rules.

Consequences and the presidential election

None of this excuses Facebook or Cambridge Analytica. That your data was readily available for exporting and exploiting — via your friends — should both appall and infuriate you. But this was not a breach or a leak; it was an exploitation of Facebook's own tools and rules.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica will be hauled in front of Congressional committees for testimony. But what happened was not against any laws, and it's not clear if there will be any consequences beyond revoking Cambridge Analytica's access to new Facebook user data. (Facebook requested the data be deleted, but it has no way to enforce that request.)

No laws were broken; it's not clear if there will be consequences. But it was grossly negligent.

Your seemingly innocent and private profiles, musings, likes, and shares were all mined and assembled into a profile of how best to exploit your beliefs, fears, and hopes during the last election. It's disconcerting when this information is used for advertising; it's terrifying when that same data is used to sway the electorate.

Trump did not run a sophisticated traditional campaign. His traditional "ground game" was incredibly lacking, but he made up for it with loud media savvy (either by accident or by design) and a quiet and unprecedented online campaign that understood the power of your data better than any in the past. And now Donald Trump is President of the United States.

Data. Is. Power.

So what now?

This was the natural next evolution of the web we implicitly agreed to without understanding the trade-offs. Users and companies have reaped rewards from this data, but this level of abuse was only a matter of time.

Our society is built on trust, and when that trust fails we make laws. We trusted Facebook and the company gave away our data with an unenforceable developer agreement as the only safeguard. Facebook isn't alone — every company wants your data, and you should be reticent to trust any of them. It doesn't matter what company we're talking about — Google, Uber, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Tesla, Spotify, et al — they all want your data. Some are more judicious in how they handle it, but even if they're not selling your data they will use it to sell to you.

I won't tell you to delete your Facebook account, but I also won't stop you. Nobody has to have a Facebook account. If you want to keep using Facebook, review your privacy settings, your profile information, which apps you've authorized, and even what you're posting and liking.

Don't trust Facebook or any other company with data you wouldn't give to a complete stranger. Don't log in to apps or services with your Facebook profile — and if they offer no alternative, use something else. Don't take random Facebook quizzes. Think twice before posting any personal information online. We all need to be cognizant of the data we're giving out.

That's the short game. In the longer term, we need systems in place to protect everyone. Silicon Valley is not going to fix this problem; its leaders are too naive about the nature of the humans to realize it even is a problem. We have laws and regulations governing airplanes, pharmaceuticals, construction, shipping, and everything else under the sun. I'm not normally one to advocate for more regulation, but it's clear that today's laws were not written for the modern internet.

Silicon Valley is too naive to even realize this is a problem, let alone fix it on their own.

Digital companies will claim that current laws and regulations are enough and that new ones will limit innovation. New regulation will indeed increase costs, but as long as there is money to be made investments will not stop. Regulation didn't stop innovation in the automotive or aerospace industries, and it certainly won't bring tech innovation to a halt. Some coalition of tech companies will issue an "Internet Bill of Rights" or such and say its principles will be sufficient to protect users. We've seen such pledges before But anything short of federal law will be insufficient. The tech sector accounts for nearly one-tenth of the U.S. economy and is growing rapidly; it's in everybody's best interest for it to be sensibly regulated.

It's well past time that we demand tech companies act responsibly with our data. The internet of today and the hyper-customized AI services of tomorrow only work if we can trust them to respect and safeguard our data. We users need to get a better handle on what we're putting out there for free, what's being done with our data, and what we expect from the Facebooks, Googles, Amazons, and Apples of the world.

Either through negligence or malevolence, our implicit trust in these companies was misplaced. We need trust for all of this to work, and the only way for that trust to be restored is through concrete action and enforceable regulations.

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

136 Comments
  • Thanks AC for this. I am a casual user who will post photos occasionally for family members. Perhaps I'll post a status update once a month, and make a comment or two. I am by no means a power user, my profile is private and I don't allow others to tag me without approval. Profile privacy settings aren't default, but slightly elevated. I'm tired of trying to keep up with what FB is changing in terms of features and privacy. At this point, I have no problem with letting it go completely.
  • I understand! It really became difficult to keep up with FB's ever changing policies which evolved so much to enclose what we were able to see, share and be tagged into. I used to really enjoy sharing and watching different media until it became a very singular ecosystem.
  • You are me to a Tee
  • No mentions anywhere that Obama Team used Facebook data in THE EXACT SAME WAY in 2012. Standard Leftie partisan reporting here. Zuckerberg didnt care in 2012 cuz as he said "they're on our side". This whole lopsided reporting on everything Trump is nauseating. Keep it up Liberals, it's why he won in 2016.
  • Thank you for posting this! Here are just 3 of the articles by The Guardian, written in 2012 describing how the Obama campaign did the same thing. Yet, when he did it was proclaimed genius. 1) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/17/obama-campaign-digital-team
    2) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/may/14/obama-digital-campaigning-...
    3) https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/nov/11/obama-data-voter-stat... It's only bad if conservatives do it.
  • None of those articles describe Obama doing the exact same thing, largely because you chose articles lacking in details.
    And the point isn't a partisan one, people are becoming a lot more privacy conscious today compared to 2012, for large variety of reasons including tech fatigue, certain modern political upsets and the large number of privacy and security breaches that have affected nearly every single American.
  • How about this one: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/17/obama-digital-data-machine...
  • https://www.cnn.com/2012/11/07/tech/web/obama-campaign-tech-team/index.html
    https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/facebook-data-scandal-trum...
    https://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/facebook-gets-central-role-in...
  • Or maybe that's just the most recent example that's also directly related to the "guilty" company in question here. Not everything has to become politicized. Both sides are guilty of doing just that, though...
  • Facebook's lawyers will argue that it is not a leak or breach of trust when users willfully posted and share the personal information. These data mining companies simply take advantage of entry points and loopholes holes to everything and everyone connected to it. After this these companies hand over to marketing companies that are then used by unscrupulous politicians to target their swill to the gullible masses in order to manipulate elections and divide people. But what do I know. I don't use face book anymore. Was sick of reposted obvious propaganda and twisted "news" stories.
  • /takes off tinfoil hat and uninstalls 20 games and apps from Android that maybe no worse or better.
  • Folks, it's not the leak of your data that's the problem here. If you posted it publicly, you've made it available. But there is a big problem. And that's the way they allow advertisers to target you with propaganda posing as phony news stories. Even Cambridge Analytica admits on video that the personal data would be useless if the propaganda they disseminated using it were clearly labeled as political advertising. The bonanza for Cambridge (and Facebook - who makes money off those phony stories, and the extra time people spend online responding to them - and to the trolls that also respond to them) is wholly dependent on this native advertising model. Facebook makes no distinction between The New York Times and Joe Schmo Romanian Fake News outlet. That would be illegal on TV, and possibly in other media as well when it comes to political advertising. Facebook isn't special. Just because they want to run a 'media' company without any employees generating or vetting content doesn't mean we have to let them. Try this on for size Mark: "I'm Vladimir Putin, and I approve this message". Problem solved. And ferchrissake, make the bots solve a Captcha before posting on a public item that was not originally posted by one of their friends and limited to consumption by their friends. Is that so hard?
  • Exactly
  • I would say in this case, that it isn't about the people who knowingly took the survey, but their "friends" who didn't consent to anything and had their data being collected.
  • My FB page has been deactivated for six years. I'm not on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter. Been on the web since the old bulletin board days in 1988, domain since 1994. I think Google, et al has enough info on me already.
  • Same here. Disabled all FB 6 years ago, not on IG etc...
  • I was never on FB or any other social media. All I do is comment on articles and am a member of some forums (Android, classic car). While I'm not as data private as I could be, I'm more private than the majority of people.
  • I've personally never used Facebook, twitter, et al. Just never saw the point, it all seemed pretty shady to me in the 1st place.
    I get why people use it, and I'm sure it's not all bad. But this kind of thing was inevitable eventually. I'm just surprised it's taken this long.
  • This isn't the first time Facebook has deceived its users and likely won't be the last. I deleted my Facebook account back in early '14 and haven't looked back.
  • Big Brother and the Holding Company.
    Orwell was off by 30 years.
  • If you want a social life your stuck with Facebook. At least that was my experience, everyone forgets you exist and you get invited to nothing. Too many people I know rely on Facebook Events to make plans.
  • I don't have FB and never will. I'll call or text. If people only communicate with FB, they are not communicating.
  • Exactly
  • True dat
  • I'm not all supportive in FB with all this, but that opinion is complete bull crap. "If people only communicate with FB, they are not communicating." You might as well just say the same thing about snail mail, email, other IM services, phone calls.. literally anything other than in person. FB is one form of communication. In function, no better or worse than others.
  • LOL if people who need FB for a social life is pretty pathetic IMO. If you can't communicate with people off of facebook and these are people you "know" than they are clearly not friends.
  • ROF...I don't have FB and never will, I'm doing just fine. I've seen more people waste time and get trapped into it's addicting algorithm, what a waste.
  • It's all well and good for you guys to congratulate yourselves for not using Facebook, but that completely ignores the problem - which is the fact that hundreds of millions of Facebook users are having their voting behavior manipulated through disinformation campaigns riding the irresponsible Facebook advertising and 'sharing' systems. If you care about the integrity of our elections, it won't do to simply not use FB yourselves. Something needs to be done about the way Facebook works. And it will take pressure from their users to make that happen. So, like they say, if you're not part of the solution... And in this case, simply not using FB and assuming that's any kind of an answer solves nothing.
  • Folks are only "having their voting behavior manipulated" if they allow themselves to believe things on Facebook, without vetting the info from a source they trust. If folks are too lazy to vet the info, perhaps what is shown on FB is not really the issue.
    As in all of life, buyer beware.
  • Their voting behavior is being altered by cable news as well. It's just the times. Dumb people are the low hanging fruit for anyone with an agenda.
  • Actually, in capitalism the answer IS not using facebook. If more people are angry about it they will leave facebook. They give you a free product, what do you think you're leverage is? My assumption is that most people simply don't care. They weigh their options of staying connected with friends and family through a free system where they're data is mined and used to sell to them. You call it manipulation, but it's just advertising. And it's not the only source of manipulation. Look at how news outlets (AP, Reuters, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox) package their news stories. The stories are crafted in a way that purports a one-sided view: their view. How words are said, how events are presented, what stories are brought to the "front of the hour" or the "front page". We've been manipulated for years. Take this story for instance, pinned at the top of Android Central. It's a clear indication of their politics. Why is an article about facebook front and center on a blog about Android OS? It doesn't make sense. I come here for news about Android. I don't care about facebook, but it hit me in the face every time I came here for the last two days so I had to read it. Like the article said, facebook is free because you sold yourself. If you don't want to be sold, get off facebook. Even if they change their policies, they're not going to change their ways, they're only going to find new (hidden) ways to do the same thing. Bottom line is there is always a bottom line.
  • Do you actually think people made voting decisions based upon an ad? No one in my generation would but maybe the Millennials would
  • No offense but that is sad. My family and friends knows that I barely check my fb so they either call or text me if they need anything. Plans are talked face to face since we all pretty much see each other everyday. I don't really consider someone a friend if the only way they can reach me is through facebook.
  • as a person who plans events, ya i do make some exceptions for some people off facebook, but its just easier to make an event and invite everyone, and thats what its about , ease. it is a pain in the butt to call or text something i wrote out nicely and posted in a common space for people to refer to in case they have questions. if i answer it for one person on a facebook event whoever else in the group sees the answer and doenst ask me again, but now im gonna answer the same questions i just answered . i recently has this issue inviting someone to a charity event all the details were on the page but the person i invited i couldnt just steer them to the page because they didnt have facebook. i like being able to send out the mass message and get as much info back in quick time and take polls and vote. it makes planning and collaborating easier
  • Maybe write the same content but in an email and BCC to the email addresses of the people you want to invite?
  • Group text works well
  • You're a fool.if you thought stuff like this wasn't happening. Advertisers have been doing stuff like this for years. This isn't much different than anything else. People just don't like how it was used. When you can serch for something in chrome or Amazon or any other shopping app and suddenly you see these things or similar in your Facebook feed of course these things are happening.
  • You should probably research Cambridge Analytica before commenting on this article. 🙄
  • Yes, it's creepy as hell that advertisers follow you deep into the bowels of Facebook. But those ads are clearly marked as ads, and are only as manipulative as a clearly marked as can be. I e., not too. That sucks, but it is a whole other thing from disinformation being presented as 'news' stories. That is the death knoll for journalism, and if we don't watch out, democracy.
  • That's because the default ad settings on Facebook ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN.
  • For good reasons i don't have FB account
  • I have been saying the following for years; "If you don't know what the product is; you are the product." This applies to Facebook and all social media. It applies to Google to a large extent also. I have never done Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, MySpace, etc.
    Social media is not your friend and you don't "need" a social media account.
    I find it disturbing that some college applications and scholarships require social media accounts. The apps also tend to be battery hogs and collect other data from your phone in the background and gather usage statistics. I'm not saying delete the apps, but I sure don't have them or any other data collection apps on my phone.
  • How is the passionate, flame-fanning, fear-mongering in this article any better than what Facebook perpetrated? Regardless of what people are shown, they have a responsibility to make their own decisions. This whole situation is being blown way out of proportion. There are opt-outs for a reason. Additionally, if a person's 'news' is coming from a Facebook algorithm, they've got bigger problems.
  • Exactly. Facebook Privacy settings are pretty straightforward. It's up to you to set your privacy preference. It's also up to you to think for yourself when it comes to the things that show up in your profile and how you interact with them.
  • How is it different? Really? How about because, unlike the crap on Facebook, this 'alarmist' story happens to be true.
  • I'm not on FB so maybe I'm not understanding this correctly, but isn't the real issue not about the people who took these surveys, but their friends who didn't have anything to do with it, didn't consent to it, and their data is fair game because their friend too a survey?
  • Exactly. I could have my information swept up because of something a friend does. I've since changed my settings, but most people don't.
  • As I've read further, I understand that people could've changed their privacy settings to counter this, but my question is this. If FB truly has their customers' best interests in mind, why aren't the default settings setup to stop this? It's the same as those programs Verizon used to introduce that weren't in their customers best interests, but to stay out of it you had to opt out. Since most people don't read tech blogs, most would never know about it and would therefore be part of those programs without their knowledge or consent.
  • Because Facebook is a for profit company that intends to make as much money as possible. They will only do what's in the best interest of the users when it could result in bad PR, lose them money, or lose them users/screen time with users (which is really just losing more money).
  • I don't have FB either, but the real story is this happened in 2012 with Obama and he was hailed as a genius for using data from social media. Now that the opposition had outsmarted them its a story. Nice article but a little late!
  • Yeah...and the use of it in 2016 was phased out before the election. The media was grasping for a Trump story.
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-campaign-phased-out-use-of-cambridge-...
  • And it was fine before. One reason to lie on social media. Facebook likely thinks that I'm fearful of DHMO also. http://thehill.com/opinion/technology/379245-whats-genius-for-obama-is-s...
  • There is no story there. 🙄
  • It shouldn't be allowed at all however there are differences. The researcher in this case was clearly not allowed to use this data for commercial purposes. They sold it to a political campaign.
  • I suppose Hillary's campaign never got any. Of course we would never know since they tend to trash servers
  • Anyone else not surprised that Cambridge Analytica gets funded, in part, by Russia and the company helped Trump win the election? The evidence keeps piling up. It’d be great to see all the evidence Mueller has against Trump.
  • Does anybody still believe in the Russian Collusion? There is no evidence against Trump. Let's move on.
  • Tell that to Muller please.
  • apparently mueller isn't all so interested in russian collusion anymore either, he has moved onto obstruction of justice
  • He was always interested in that, but obstruction is WAY EASIER to prove. Tell the people that plead guilty and those indicted the there's nothing there.
  • Still waiting on those tax returns and Trump financials.. I know half of them are in Russian but it should have been translated into English by now.
  • You are ******* high, and probably a ******* bot.
  • Huh? Everyone who doesn't have their head up their a$$ believes it.
  • Another Stupid Article. Doubt it had much influence on the election. Second, Don't put anything on line that you don't want someone to have. If you think you can trust any free service on the Internet you are an idiot.
  • They're pouring millions into this because it doesn't work? Wake up, it does and sadly it did, leaving this country with a disaster in the White House.
  • Glad I never signed up.
  • This has been going on for years... In 2012 when Obama's campaign did it he was called a visionary. I have never used Facebook - never felt the need too.
  • Wow. You just did a WHAT ABOUT Obama. That's hilarious. Guess what? They didn't do this. They didn't spread propaganda, and disseminate it to people EXACTLY. You people are morons, support a traitor, and are most likely garbage russian bots.
  • Whataboutism (also known as whataboutery) is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument, which is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda.
  • Obama did it in 2012. I'll bet Hilary's campaign used heavy data mining as well when deciding where to spend ad dollars.
  • Whataboutism (also known as whataboutery) is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position
    by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument, which is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda.
  • Regulation does indeed retard innovation. The trick is to only regulate to the minimum for safety, otherwise we end up with a technology like shuttle engines that didn't get innovated for 60+ years until Elon Musk decided to sink several fortunes with little chance of making that money back just to get the ball rolling again.
  • Funny this was all fine and dandy when other political parties were doing it, but now that it has been found that the GOP/Republicans were doing it the sky is falling.... 
  • Funny, but I don't remember anyone writing an outrage piece when the Obama campaign data mined Facebook for the 2012 election (with Facebook's hearty approval), and then his campaign bragged about it afterwards, and how much they owned social media. And now it's the end of the world because Trump did the same thing? Nah, not buying it. I've never been on Facebook, don't have a profile, and I very happily, and heartily voted for Trump. Election's long over. Hillary lost, thank God.
  • Another racist Trump supporter, keep your racist political claptrap to yourself.
  • Nothing the above poster said was racist.
  • He's a Trump supporter, and racism is in his DNA and his has links with the KKK and anyone who supports him is as biggoted and racist as he is.
  • Nah, you're just shallow, and a nut job.
  • I voted for Hillary. Obama probably won the black militant vote and no one complained about that. Black militants weren't the key voters for Obama nor were white racists trumps key voters. Many Trump voters voted for Obama twice. Obama won IA twice. Trump won IA, too. If the D party were as interested in working class Americans as they are Russian conspiracies, fake news, and Cambridge analytics they never would have lost.
  • Ok so we should jyst be ok with an idiot traitor in the White House?
  • You were OK with a Marxist black racist for 8 years?
  • Hahahahaha that's funny. You're an idiot.
  • Back at ya.
  • Figured you would appreciate a little name calling going your way since you like to do it to others. :)
  • when you don't have the IQ to debate, your side just uses racism its the only answer I ever here. Do you a specific video or audio to make him a racist or do you just drink the cool-aid?
  • I don't think you know what "racist" means. Nothing in the posters above post has any hint of racism. Come on now, be better than that garbage. 
  • With Facebook, we are the product and the advertisers are the customer and I don't use Facebook all that much.
  • fortunately, I never trusted FB nor Zuck so I have never had a user account on FB.
  • No FB account for me. Google mines all my data....
  • Obama did the same thing in 2012, and we are told how brilliant it was.... A/C best to present both sides http://thehill.com/opinion/technology/379245-whats-genius-for-obama-is-s...
  • We've _been_ paying the price, you just now noticed?
  • So *this* is what appalls AC? You can bet the Dems used the same tactics. Very doubtful that had any sway on the outcome. What had sway was pissed off American voters. I'm independent, but Trump is moving the needle. He might be (no...he is) an AH, but he's getting things done. I'll keep the political rant short because THIS IS NOT THE PLACE but the world can be thankful that HC didn't get in. If you feel compelled to disagree with a comment, make sure you back up your disagreement with a FACT. Oh, and get off of FB. I can't wait for people to wake up and get off this platform. Doubtful that will happen as people are addicted to free and today are addicted to narcissism. If there was a similar platform that completely safeguarded your data for a price, people would pass. I choose to pass on FB.
  • NO THEY DIDN'T! YOU ******* IDIOT! You are the support of a traitor to our nation, and it appals me that you don't understand you voted for a traitor. Seeing as you are a russian bot. I doubt you care about anything more, than spreading moronic hot takes.
  • I AM THE RUSSIAN BOT! BZZZZZT!
  • Trump is moving the needle alright, unfortunately it's pointing straight down. That's what happens when you have a President who is compromised by a foreign adversary.
  • But does Android Central collect info 😁
  • Not sure but android is all about Google and Google's entire business is about collecting info on users. It's only a matter of time until Google gets called to the carpet for some sort of data misuse. I get a kick that Google, Facebook, and Twitter are all bay area based business and the usual loud mount CA Congress folks go silent when ever one of the bay area 3 get bad publicity.
  • Never used Facebook that much, and I signed up when they were still in beta and open only to a handful of US colleges. My profile is extremely basic with no personal info, only like 5 friends and no real data. I think in all the years I had a profile, I only posted like 2 stories on the wall.
  • I'm trying to figure out how Trump became some lifelong conservative? Dude politics has been all over the map for decades but he managed to weasel his way in the hearts of all conservatives LMAO.
  • Wrong. He didn't have to weasel anything, he just had to show up with some good ideas, because his opponent was a demonstrative, condescending, entitled, elitist, career politician, who thought she was owed the presidency and oh, BTW she is evil AF.
  • I don’t spacebook, if your my friend you know what I’m doing or what I’m like, I don’t need to announce my personal life or bio to the public.
  • This is a big who cares for me. I barely use it, and even if I did it wouldn't inform my opinions on the world. The only people duped by this would have been swayed by political ads of any other sort. Individual thought is a casualty of social media think.
  • I stopped using it 5 yrs ago. Never looked back.
    Had a G+ account for my immediate family and close friends , but over time stopped using it. Now, I just have Allo and share files there with such an ease.
    Twitter is only to for "news". Following independent journalists, some Scientific journals , etc. I post nothing there at all. So, f. u. c. k. Facebook. People are addicted, so it will take time see them hit hard.
  • This is why I didn't want to register for Facebook and only GRUDGINGLY did. I only registered because all the bulletin boards that I wanted to comment on went with Facebook logins and it was easier to remember one Facebook login rather than a plethora of individual logins (if that particular board gave me the option anyway...). But aside from a few friends from high school, I've only got my news feed. Nothing else. No likes, no music, no pictures (office appropriate or not) and nothing political (although I do mix it up with some SJW's from time to time...). I always knew that putting your life on line would come to bite folks in the butt and now I'm proven right.
  • This is nothing new and only a story now because Trump used it and he won. Don't believe me? Here is a story written about Obama using data from Facebook users to target them the same way when he ran for his second term. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/17/obama-digital-data-machine... The first couple paragraphs:
    "Barack Obama's re-election team are building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before. Digital analysts predict this will be the first election cycle in which Facebook could become a dominant political force. The social media giant has grown exponentially since the last presidential election, rendering it for the first time a major campaigning tool that has the potential to transform friendship into a political weapon". And yes Facebook knew about this also, but it help the person they wanted to win.
  • The article should mention that Obama's campaign also used facebooks data for the same thing, and so did Hillary in 2016. As prove of this there is a leaked email by wikileaks from John Podesta to Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) stating that they are looking forward to working with each other to elect the first woman president of the US. https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/56638 The author should have been more honest in the article and/or should have done his due diligence.
  • Difficult to do, when one simply regurgitates what's already been "published".
  • Read an article about "looking down" your Facebook account. Turns out I'd already done it. I had disabled my platform in the app settings long ago.
  • Obama did the same thing in 2012, everyone knew about it, and it was praised as brilliant. So what's changed? We're fine when people we like do it but not people we dislike? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5520303/Obama-campaign-director-...
  • Most are fine with it, because they agreed with the message. The rest don't know if they are fine with it, because not as much attention was paid to it, then. Why is the media making a big deal about it, this time? What's different?
  • What's different? What Obama did was well within Facebook's policies at the time, and they were upfront about it. They didn't hide it behind the guise of an academic study. So the difference is really lying and hiding true intentions and being upfront about what you're doing. One (Obama) didn't lie, and the other did. Facebook actually saw the problem with how the API was being used (not sure if they ever cited the Obama use case as evidence) as a problem, so they changed it. The "academic study" was the run around to bypass the new policy and not raise any alarms while they did it. I still don't like how Facebook has responded to this, like they were the victim. They built the platform that allowed it to happen in the first place. If they really didn't want it to happen then they would have never built the capability.
  • And yet it's perfectly fine for a "tech blog" focused on Android to write yet another liberal whining article about how Trump duped a bunch of people voting for him, which is...absurd. Trump won because Hillary was a weak candidate - weak, flawed, completely irrational at times, sickly and then outright insulting to more than half the country (you dirty deplorable's). There is no mystery here, the country had a choice between two evils and they picked one - move on. The idea that Facebook had something to do to influence my vote is utter nonsense. It is yet another Snowflake attempt to blame anything other than the failing of the democratic party to recognize that they put a losing candidate forward...twice...and just can't accept the loss. It's not the Russians, it's not Facebook - Hillary Clinton lost an election. She's been a lying, thieving, woman-shaming hypocrite since the Nixon administration... period the end. Donald Trump is an idiot blowhard, but he's always been - the country picked the devil it knew...and we got exactly what we deserved. Facebook's data sharing policy isn't the problem - and if you didn't understand that YOU are the product if you don't pay for a product - then you shouldn't be voting in the first place, you should be in a corner with a helmet eating pudding skins and talking about how "corporations" are evil over your artesnal coffee thimbles and craft beer. Signed - Someone who didn't vote for Donald Trump
  • Well put!
  • You guys probably think advertising doesn't work either.....
  • And you probably believe in the excuse fairy that the democratic party believes will save face, something that doesn't remind us constantly that they put forward a failed candidate, not to mention, just a miserable human being... Before you start on the typical "you must hate women," or "You must be some gun toting white nationalist," I'm not. I've met Hillary Clinton, I sat across the room from her and that moron Tipper Gore when they demonized video games in the 90's. Trust me, their both vapid, awful wastes of space...
  • You need to get out more.
  • @littlenoodles
    I couldn't reply directly to your comment \_0_/
    Folks are only "having their voting behavior manipulated" if they allow themselves to believe things on Facebook, without vetting the info from a source they trust. If folks are too lazy to vet the info, perhaps what is shown on FB is not really the issue.
    As in all of life, buyer beware.
  • 100% correct sir. Gracias.
  • No mentions anywhere that Obama Team used Facebook data in THE EXACT SAME WAY in 2012. Standard Leftie partisan reporting here. Zuckerberg did t care in 2012 cuz as he said "they're on our side". This whole lopsided reporting on everything Trump is nauseating. Keep it up Liberals, it's why he won in 2016.
  • Exactly. And I'm not even a Trump fan.
  • Would this have even been a story had it been the "good guys" using the data? Oh, that's right, it wasn't a story when the "good guys" were using the data in 2012. It was considered genius and savvy at that time, and reported as proof of how well the administration was in touch with social media. But hey, remember, there is no media bias whatsoever. It's all a figment of your imagination.
  • And how is this any different than ads on TV, ads on the internet, billboards, talk radio programs with an agenda? Let's not get too carried away that this swayed an election either way. I read a smart post about how the dollars the DNC used in the presidential election divided by the people who voted Democrat was around $22.00 per person. I think that puts things into perspective.
  • An excellent article. So who can we trust? I think it is safe to say even Mobile Nations uses these data gathering systems to target ads at me as well? (Ad choice?) The sudden appearance of car ads after I searched a few car sales websites makes me think even Mobile Nations is part of the problem. I don't mean to accuse mobile nations of anything nefarious, it is systemic for every website out there. But as long as long as there is a buyer of the information, there will be companies built on harvesting it.
  • Nobody cared when Obama did the same thing with FB and the same research firm...
    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/03/21/liberal-media-didn-t-thi...
  • The Obama camaign invited users to share their data. They didn't take it without asking. I don't like either of these things, but they are not at all the same thing.
  • Social media had zero influence on the election for Trump. There is zero evidence to say there is. Also Russia did not support Trump or Clinton They just wanted to create discord. The mainstream media does a great job of creating discord. Also the Russia investigation is 100% political and has no legal basis. I would venture most people are not idiots and know what social media is and does and had zero influence on the election.
  • ROF...get back to us when you're off your meds.
  • 'Sup Alexi - err...krhtnc1! Looks like that Moscow snowstorm is going to pass in a few days. Hope you enjoy the sun a little between posts.
  • Bigly reply fail!
  • I mean yeah....except for the indictments and guilty pleas.....
  • It seems to be that Facebook's only real issue with any of this is that Cambridge Analytica didn't pay for the data it hoovered out of the system.
  • I ditched Facebook about three years ago. I read the privacy statement before an update. It basically said your info is ours and we will use it!! Haven't looked back!
  • Wow just seeing this today -- gotta say, this comment feed was probably more entertaining than the article, which was good until it injected politics into the discussion that should just be about Faceplant sharing user data without their direct consent. Of course, Faceplant has been doing this since it started, so it should be of no surprise to anyone. I refused to create a Faceplant account for the longest time ... I probably shouldn't advertise this, but my entire FB profile is fake. I mean every single part of it. I use it to save mobile game data. My profile pic is a great selfie of my dog. I don't have the app on my phone and never have. Everything sharing-wise is set to private. I'd love to see what their profile of me would look like. They certainly track my web browsing, based on the ad preferences stuff on my profile, but it's actually quite pathetic, from what I can see. I'm still waiting for Faceplant to realize I don't actually exist and boot me off the platform. Of course, I'll probably be all too happy to go at that point. =P Sometimes being just a tad paranoid is not so bad. Then again, I come from the early days of the internet (think Compuserve), so I don't believe everything I read online either. I had to write papers in high school that were explicitly NOT permitted to use the Internet in any source cited in the bibliography. Of course, if we were talking about Google, yep, I'm toast.
  • Glad I never signed up for fb.
  • I've never posted or read anything on Facebook that could possibly be of interest to anybody...
  • It's time to screw Zuckerberg's seemingly dirty *ss!