IJR reported that Carol Davidson, former director of integration and media analytics for Obama for America [OFA], said Facebook discovered their campaign was misusing Facebook to massively mine user data by “sucking out the whole social graph.” They allowed it because they agreed with OFA.
Like Cambridge Analytica, Obama for America was able to look at a user’s friend list once they applied for the Obama campaign. The campaign then used the data to append their email list. It was called “targeted sharing.”
An example of how we used that data to append to our email lists. pic.twitter.com/VHhSukvXDY
— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
Facebook was aware of the Obama campaign’s activity. Davidsen says they were “surprised” at the campaign’s actions. They were okay with it. Facebook representatives came to the campaign office and told them to continue because Facebook was on Obama’s side.
Facebook deleted Cambridge Analytica for doing essentially the same thing. One might safely assume they were deleted because Facebook is not on their side.
Davidsen admits that while OFA technically didn’t break any rules, the action on OFA’s part still felt dirty.
Mitt Romney might have done the same thing. It was a well-known tactic and many did it.
It is not only Miss Davidsen who is making these claims about inappropriate data mining.
An insider at Facebook named Sandy Parakilas told the Guardian he found it “horrifying” that numerous companies deployed these techniques used by Analytica, possibly affecting hundreds of millions of Facebook users.
Between 2011 and 2012, he was one of the software engineers policing possible third party breaches. He found these flaws and warned the senior management they risked serious breaches.
Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand”. Also, the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms or employ audits.
Parakilas said he “always assumed there was something of a black market” for Facebook data that had been passed to external developers. One manager told him not to look too deeply for fear of what he might find.
Making this unexpected use of data an issue solely about Cambridge Analytica is ridiculous. Deleting Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook page and not Organizing for America’s is typical of the left.
Many were doing it and Facebook knew it. Facebook and Zuckerberg are not victims.