Decoding Cambridge Analytical Scandal
On October 27, 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote an email to the director of product development of Facebook rising concern: “I’m generally skeptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think,” Zuckerberg added: “I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.”
On March 17, 2018, a whistleblower Christopher Wylie told The New York Times and The Guardian/Observer about a firm called Cambridge Analytica. According to the United Kingdom Government, the official register of a company the CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA LTD. had been registered company since 2014 under number 09154503.[ Cambridge Analytica was incorporated on 30 July 2014 as a Private Limited Company (LTD), for nature of the business under the classification number 70229 – Management consultancy activities other than financial management.
“Cambridge Analytica had purchased Facebook data on tens of millions of Americans without their knowledge to build a “psychological warfare tool,” which it unleashed on US voters to help elect Donald Trump as president.”[
Few days before the news about Cambridge Analytica broke Facebook has banned Wylie, Cambridge Analytica, its parent company SCL, and Aleksandr Kogan, the researcher who collected the data, from the platform.[ But it seemed that was too late and too little to prevent the outrage of the public, regulators, and media.
What kinds of information do Facebook collects?
Things user and others do and provide[:
- Information and content users provide – Facebook collects the content, communications and other information users provide when users use Facebook Products, including when users sign up for an account, creates or shares content, and message or communicates with others.
- Networks and connections – Facebook collects information about the people, Pages, accounts, hashtags and groups users are connected to and how users interact with them across Facebook Products, such as people users communicate with the most of groups users are part of.
- Usage of Facebook Products – Facebook collects information about how users use Facebook Products, such as the types of content users view or engage with; the features users use; the actions users take; the people or accounts users interact with; and the time, frequency and duration of users activities.
- Information about transactions made on Facebook’s Products. If users use Facebook Products for purchases or other financial transactions (such as when users make a purchase in a game or make a donation), Facebook collects information about the purchase or transaction.
- Things others do and information they provide about users – Facebook also receives and analyzes content, communications and information that other people provide when they use Facebook Products. This can include information about users, such as when others share or comment on a photo of users, send a message to users, or upload, sync or import users contact information.
- Device attributes – information such as the operating system, hardware and software versions, battery level, signal strength, available storage space, browser type, app and file names and types, and plugins.
- Device operations – information about operations and behaviors performed on the device, such as whether a window is foregrounded or backgrounded, or mouse movements (which can help distinguish humans from bots).
- Identifiers – unique identifiers, device IDs, and other identifiers, such as from games, apps or accounts users use, and Family Device IDs (or other identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).
- Device signals – Bluetooth signals, and information about nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers.
- Data from device settings – information users allow Facebook to receive through device settings users turn on, such as access to users GPS location, camera or photos.
- Network and connections – information such as the name of users mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, mobile phone number, IP address, connection speed and, in some cases, information about other devices that are nearby or on users network.
- Cookie data – data from cookies stored on users’ device, including cookie IDs and settings.
Information from partners[:
- Advertisers, app developers, and publishers can send Facebook information through Facebook Business Tools they use, including Facebook’s social plug-ins (such as the Like button), Facebook Login, our APIs and SDKs, or the Facebook pixel.
Information about social plug-ins such as the
usage of the Like button is exactly what Facebook had sold to Cambridge
Analytica and what Cambridge Analytica had used to create personality profiles
for the 2016 US election.