The recent controversy and escalating scandal over Facebook's decision to ban Trump-linked political data firm Cambridge Analytica over the use of data harvested through a personality app under the guise of academic research has opened a veritable Pandora's box of scandal for the Silicon Valley social media giant.
Carol Davidsen, who served as Obama's director of integration and media analytics during his 2012 campaign (in her LinkedIn profile she says she was responsible for "The Optimizer" & "Narwhal" big data analytics platforms), claims - with evidence, that Facebook found out about a massive data-mining operation they were conducting to "suck out the whole social graph" in order to target potential voters. After Facebook found out, they knowingly allowed them to continue doing it because they were supportive of the campaign.
"[M]ore than 1 million Obama backers who signed up for the [Facebook-based app] gave the campaign permission to look at their Facebook friend lists. In an instant, the campaign had a way to see the hidden young voters. Roughly 85% of those without a listed phone number could be found in the uploaded friend lists. What’s more, Facebook offered an ideal way to reach them," reads an article Davidsen posted as a prelude to her postings.
In a series of Sunday night tweets, Davidsen explained how the Obama campaign was able to use Facebook data to "append to our email lists."
An example of how we used that data to append to our email lists. pic.twitter.com/VHhSukvXDY— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
When Facebook found out about the data mining for political purposes - the same thing they just banned Cambridge Analytica for doing, they "didn't stop us."
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.— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
Facebook even "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."
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.— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
I worked on all of the data integration projects at OFA. This was the only one that felt creepy, even though we played by the rules, and didn’t do anything I felt was ugly, with the data.— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
So - it seems that Facebook has selective standards when it comes to their data collection policy.
Facebook scandal widens: Obama campaign's Carol Davidsen admits Democrats sucked out "the entire social network of the US", kept the data and still have it.https://t.co/3GpaCdY0y3— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 19, 2018
Cambridge Analytica bought data harvested using a personality app called "thisisyourdigitallife," created by two psychology professors. When CA was asked to stop and delete all of the harvested data, they did - however Facebook banned Cambridge Analytics and their parent company SCL after an anonymous source which Facebook won't disclose reported that not all of the data had been deleted.
So the 2012 Obama campaign was scraping data from Facebook, got caught, and was specifically told they were allowed to do things "they wouldn't have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side."
Davidsen then tweeted "I am also 100% positive that Facebook activity recruits and staffs people that are on the other side."
I am also 100% positive that Facebook activity recruits and staffs people that are on the other side.— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
Funny she should say that!
Turns out one of the two founding directors of Global Science Research (GSR), which sold the data to Cambridge Analytics, is employed by Facebook!
Joseph Chancellor was one of two founding directors of Global Science Research (GSR), the company that harvested Facebook data using a personality app under the guise of academic research and later shared the data with Cambridge Analytica.
He was hired to work at Facebook as a quantitative social psychologist around November 2015, roughly two months after leaving GSR, which had by then acquired data on millions of Facebook users.
Chancellor is still working as a researcher at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters in California, where psychologists frequently conduct research and experiments using the company’s vast trove of data on more than 2 billion users. -The Guardian.
And as the broader public has merely scratched the surface of the tangled webs politicized social media platforms weave, Facebook's Chief Security Officer has already decided to get the hell out of dodge. One can only imagine what some real digging would unveil.