Obama’s Facebook Data Harvesting
A former top Obama staffer recently revealed that the Obama campaign “harvested” Facebook’s data on the friend networks of every American user. Obama’s campaign used this technology to gain access to data on the “entire social graph” of Facebook — the friends of every American user. According to Carol Davidsen, a former Obama staffer who oversaw the former president’s data operations during the 2012 elections, Facebook was alarmed by the amount of data they had access to, but made a special exception for the Obama campaign because they were “on their side.”
Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.
They came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.
A New York Times piece following the 2012 election also reports that Obama’s data-gathering app “triggered internal safeguards” at the company, designed to detect suspicious activity.
Cambridge Analytica says that
. they used no Facebook data during the 2016 election.
. Aleksandr Kogan obtained the data via legitimate means.
. they complied with Facebook’s request to delete the data.
.they have agreed to allow the social media giant to conduct an independent audit to verify their claims.
. they would also “work with regulators as they investigate what happened.”
Update — A Facebook spokesperson provided this comment – both the Obama and Romney campaigns had access to the same tools, and no campaign received any special treatment from Facebook.”
Mark Zuckerberg’s statement to address users’ concerns about third-party access to data
There was no mention of Obama's utilization of face book data in Zuckerberg’s statement, which instead focused on Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm accused of failing to delete user data that had been passed to them by an academic, Aleksandr Kogan, who obtained the data via legitimate means.
In his statement, Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook had “learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified.” HOWEVER, HE ALSO CONCEDED THAT CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA DENIES THE MEDIA’S ALLEGATIONS, AND THAT FACEBOOK HAS YET TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THEM.
Zuckerberg announced three next steps for Facebook to address user concerns about data:
- Facebook will investigate all apps that had access to “large amounts of information” prior to the rule change in 2014.
- Facebook will conduct a “thorough audit” of “any app with suspicious activity,” and ban developers who do not agree to an audit.
- Facebook will ban any developer who misused “personally identifiable information” (names, addresses, birthdays, etc.)
- Facebook will introduce a range of new restrictions on third-party apps.
- Facebook will make it easier for users to revoke third-party apps’ data
According to Davidsen, Obama’s app falls into all three categories AND IS STILL IN CIRCULATION.
Will Facebook audit them and/or ask them to delete the data ?