Tell Facebook: Stop Enabling Cambridge Analytica, The Trump Campaign, and Other Cheaters

Tell Facebook: Stop Enabling Cambridge Analytica, The Trump Campaign, and Other Cheaters

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Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica's access to the platform after it was revealed that the company had acquired detailed personal information about more than 50 million users by cheating and breaking the rules. But it is highly likely that there are copies of that exact same data set currently being used by others, namely the Trump campaign. 

Our ask is simple: Facebook needs to ban every entity, be it the Trump campaign or any other, that is using a copy of Cambridge Analytica's data or any other data set acquired by cheating.

Facebook has repeatedly failed to protect the people who use it, and despite the outrage that arises when news of another failure is exposed, remarkably little has been done to fix the problems. Consumers have been left to deal with disinformation, predatory political ads, hate and harassment, and violations of privacy largely on their own. 

Recently, a series of stories broke that illustrate just how colossal these corporate failures are. It's so disturbing that at some point you start to wonder if, instead of just failing, Facebook has been intentionally enabling bad actors with its business model. 

On Friday, Facebook abruptly announced that it had banned Cambridge Analytica, the firm that did data targeting for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, from using the platform for "violating its policies around data collection and retention," as The Verge described it. [1] Basically, Cambridge Analytica downloaded the detailed personal records of more than 50 million Facebook users that it never should have had in the first place -- and Facebook waited years before finally doing anything about it. [2] 

While Facebook says it has suspended the company from its platform, and Cambridge Analytica claims the massive trove of personal information it acquired has been destroyed, it's very, very probable that copies of the database are still being used. Facebook says it has hired a firm "to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists." [3] One probable owner? The Trump campaign. 

Trump's 2020 campaign manager and 2016 digital director Brad Parscale has bragged about the size and impact of the campaign's database, which it named Project Alamo and which was an apparent combination of Cambridge Analytica's data, Republican National Committee data, and the Trump campaign’s data prior to hiring Cambridge. 

Simply put: There are likely replicas of Cambridge's ill-gotten data out there, and unless Facebook puts a stop to everyone else that's using it, the company really isn't doing anything to fix the problem, instead just continuing its trend of employing inadequate half-measures. Auditing the developers of Facebook apps isn't enough. Without quick action to stop organizations with copies of data like this from this cheating, they'll keep using Facebook to manipulate unsuspecting people based on pilfered knowledge about them -- and their messages and ads will continue to have the upper hand on the platform. 

This isn't a PR crisis -- this is a democracy crisis. 

We have 50 million reasons to be mad at Facebook. Let's turn that anger into action by pressuring Facebook to protect consumers immediately instead of enabling the businesses that game the system with its platform. It's time to ban these cheaters. 

[1] 
https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/16/17132172/facebook-cambridge-analytica-suspended-donald-trump-strategic-communication-laboratories 
[2] 
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/data-war-whistleblower-christopher-wylie-faceook-nix-bannon-trump 
[3] 
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/technology/facebook-cambridge-analytica-explained.html