While Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica, the company which ran the Donald Trump presidential campaign, for breach of trust and violation of privacy policies, the trouble doesn’t end there for the company.
The analytics firm illegally utilized the user data collected through a personality quiz app developed by Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan during the US presidential elections, to use for targeting in fake news campaigns and political ads. Despite certifying that the data was destroyed, Facebook later discovered that not all of it was deleted by Cambridge.
Two former federal officers have now revealed that Facebook may have violated FTC’s data privacy laws when it granted the data analytics firm access to the social media activity records of millions of users. David Vladeck, former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, has revealed that Facebook may incur millions of dollars in fine if the charges are confirmed by the Federal Trade Commission.
It’s hard for the public to understand Cambridge Analytica and their role in the Trump campaign, and the unethical nature of what they did together. Here’s the most cogent explanation from someone who was there: https://t.co/Q86hdRn1uZ
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiffCA) March 18, 2018
“I would not be surprised if at some point the FTC looks at this”, added the former FTC official who was instrumental in drafting the landmark consent decree that governs how Facebook handles user data. He further noted that the situation raises ‘serious questions about compliance with the FTC consent decree’. Jessica Rich, former deputy director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at FTC, stated that Facebook’s action ‘bespeaks the same recklessness with its users’ data that prompted the FTC to take action in 2011.’
Facebook, on the other hand, has denied that it violated FTC’s privacy laws when the company greenlit a developer’s request to let his app gather data of around 270,000 Facebook users who downloaded the app as well as their friends on the social media platform. “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”, Facebook said in a statement.
Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who worked with Cambridge Analytica to orchestrate the harvesting of Facebook data, had previously unreported ties to a Russian university—including grants for research into Facebook, the Observer has discovered. https://t.co/C2gcv5BPzu
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 18, 2018
The recent developments have led to considerable debate as well as planned actions from officials like Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who has revealed that she was opening a probe into Facebook’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica situation.