FTC probes Facebook over personal data use following Cambridge Analytica revelations

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has allegedly started investigating Facebook concerning the use of user data by analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, including whether the social network violated the terms of a 2011 settlement by providing the data without the user's consent.




The FTC is probing Facebook following the revelation that the UK-based Cambridge Analytica acquired the data of as many as 50 million Facebook users, reports Bloomberg, which may have been misused to influence a number of political events, including the 2016 US presidential campaign.

The probe is specifically looking into whether or not Facebook violated the terms of a consent decree from 2011, report sources claim. The decree was issued after it was found user data had been provided to Cambridge Analytica, but without the prior knowledge of the user.

As part of the decree, Facebook agreed to acquire the user's consent for changes to privacy settings, to settle federal charges that it deceived users and ended up sharing more personal data than the users would have intended. At the time, users complained to the FTC about Facebook making changes to some of the user settings without informing the service's users, prompting the government agency's investigation.

Facebook announced on Friday it had suspended Cambridge Analytica and parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories for violating the site's Terms of Service, specifically rules about the collection and retention of data. It is believed Cambridge Analytica acquired user data that was obtained by unauthorized means, which would provide the firm an unfair advantage compared to other political analytics teams.

Cambridge Analytica claims it is an innocent party, stating in a press release it received Facebook data in good faith from another firm, GSR, but deleted the data after procedural irregularities were discovered. The firm also stresses the data in question was not included as part of services provided to the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

Facebook could face fines of thousands of dollars a day per violation, if the FTC determines Facebook violated the consent decree terms. If calculated on a per-user basis, the penalty could extend into the billions of dollars, possibly up to $800 billion based on a 2011 FTC press release's disclosed maximum civil penalty.

Facebook is already suffering from the effects of the Cambridge Analytica news, with the stock price falling 3.2 percent as of 9:31 a.m. eastern time, following another drop of 6.8 percent on Monday.

The FTC is not the only government body looking into Facebook's involvement in the matter. BBC News reports Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been called to give evidence to a parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom, with a letter from MP Damian Collins requesting the CEO to appear as a "senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process."

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office is also pursuing a warrant for its own on-site investigation of Cambridge Analytica's London office.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,313administrator
    The comments are intentionally left open. That said, there is going to be a very tight leash on comments here. Stick to the facts at hand, and political manifestos will not be tolerated.

    If you even suspect you're going to run afoul of the commenting guidelines, handily linked below, then don't post.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 36
    [A mean and biased political comment, belittling supporters of one political party, while trying to point out all the good another political party had done.]
    sdw2001SpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,420member
    Store broke long while ago. Guess now have an employee of the company to speak out, which is good. Facebook is a very noisy platform. Give it a couple of decades and the planet may grow up a little. We need a Duck-duck-go social network. Path tried it, but someone may eventually succeed.
    edited March 20 baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 36
    Good. Shut facebook down. 🖖🔥
    rotateleftbytemacseekerbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 36
      Resurrect the Ping network! 💪💪🍎🎶
    lukeiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 36
    This is going to be a huge scandal when it's all said and done.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 36
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 417member
    Trying to decide whether I should sell my shares. Probably won’t, as I don’t usually panic, but I don’t have any extra cash right now to buy more... decisions. 
  • Reply 8 of 36
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 903member
    I'm too lazy too look up the Facebook Terms of Service/User Agreement at the moment. But don't most of these things say anything you put on the platform becomes the property of the service provider and they can do whatever the heck they want with it? And don't forget the arbitration clauses saying you won't sue the company no matter what happens, but will instead use arbitration (chosen & paid for by the company; i.e. the arbitrator will side with the company).

    Facebook is free because user eyeballs & information is the product.

    IMHO, this is all political posturing and grandstanding. I would completely expect that this same sort of data leak has happened many times with other data harvesting companies. It's only news because the "evil" Trump campaign is involved. I'd love to see someone investigate similar data analytic practices on the Democratic side of the fence - I wouldn't be surprised if they used the same company & same data.
    [Deleted User]watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 36
    bsimpsenbsimpsen Posts: 246member
    Certainly people with wealth and power have always been able to manipulate the levers of public perception in various ways, but leveraging AI (or at least sophisticated computer analysis) down to the individual level at mass scale is a particularly pernicious development we seem ill equipped to understand, much less address.

    When I was young, my father warned me that humanity is fully capable of repeating huge mistakes. He's now (from my perspective) deep into making one himself, as he rails against any suggestion that Facebook might have been used to manipulate people.

    We live in interesting times.
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 36
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,057member
    This goes back to what many have said years ago. If a service is free, you are the product. Google. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. I know some (for example TechDirt) take this as a "pithy" view, but it still very true. Using traditional media is an anachronism when applied to digital on-line media. 

    Each of these are supported by collecting as much personal information about you as they can and targeting specific ads (be it political or products) at your eyes. It is time for people to start realizing just how complete the personality models of these companies are and start thinking about putting limits on how much data can be collected and just how it is shared and used.
    edited March 20 danhGG1baconstangjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 36
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,875member
    Once again we see the wisdom in Apple's commitment to user privacy and data security. 

    Yet at the same time, I suspect FB will not really end up being hurt *unless* laws are passed that limit their ability to collect and share user data. In the absence of new laws, I don't think FB will be hurt because most FB users don't care enough about this sort of thing to actually reduce their use of FB. I suspect the average FB user is pretty different from the average Apple customer. 
    Foliobaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 36
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,902member
    As I have always been suspecting since day 1 I got on FB in early 2000, nothing was free but user information trade off. That's why I kept all personal information offline. My FB account contain only fake info about me: phone number, birthday, home address, employment...whatever. I never trusted FB from day 1 and I'm glad that I didn't.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 36
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,902member
    steven n. said:
    This goes back to what many have said years ago. If a service is free, you are the product. Google. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. I know some (for example TechDirt) take this as a "pithy" view, but it still very true. Using traditional media is an anachronism when applied to digital on-line media. 

    Each of these are supported by collecting as much personal information about you as they can and targeting specific ads (be it political or products) at your eyes. It is time for people to start realizing just how complete the personality models of these companies are and start thinking about putting limits on how much data can be collected and just how it is shared and used.
    Tim Cook said that. He said Apple didn't make money selling user information like FB and Google.
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 36
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,276member
    fallenjt said:
    steven n. said:
    This goes back to what many have said years ago. If a service is free, you are the product. Google. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. I know some (for example TechDirt) take this as a "pithy" view, but it still very true. Using traditional media is an anachronism when applied to digital on-line media. 

    Each of these are supported by collecting as much personal information about you as they can and targeting specific ads (be it political or products) at your eyes. It is time for people to start realizing just how complete the personality models of these companies are and start thinking about putting limits on how much data can be collected and just how it is shared and used.
    Tim Cook said that. He said Apple didn't make money selling user information like FB and Google.
    I very seriously doubt he said that because it simply isn't true. It could be the way some folks re-phased it and then interpreted it perhaps but not what he actually stated IMO. I don't believe he ever accused Google of selling user information altho if you and others wanted to think that he wasn't going to interfere.
     :D 
    edited March 20
  • Reply 15 of 36
    I love how everyone is up in arms over the faceybook and cambridge analytica... while Equifax slides on by like yesterday's fart in the wind.
    SpamSandwichdewmetrumptman
  • Reply 16 of 36
    I have to wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the 'give us your life story not forgetting to keep it updated every day' methodology of the Social Media companies?
    It might not be but I can dream can't I?
    {I don't use and have never used FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram etc}
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 36
    fallenjt said:
    As I have always been suspecting since day 1 I got on FB in early 2000, nothing was free but user information trade off. That's why I kept all personal information offline. My FB account contain only fake info about me: phone number, birthday, home address, employment...whatever. I never trusted FB from day 1 and I'm glad that I didn't.
    Ditto. I have a FB account only because you need to be signed in to see some pages. But they have absolutely no genuine information on me and I'm going to keep it that way.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 36
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,202member
    gatorguy said:
    fallenjt said:
    steven n. said:
    This goes back to what many have said years ago. If a service is free, you are the product. Google. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. I know some (for example TechDirt) take this as a "pithy" view, but it still very true. Using traditional media is an anachronism when applied to digital on-line media. 

    Each of these are supported by collecting as much personal information about you as they can and targeting specific ads (be it political or products) at your eyes. It is time for people to start realizing just how complete the personality models of these companies are and start thinking about putting limits on how much data can be collected and just how it is shared and used.
    Tim Cook said that. He said Apple didn't make money selling user information like FB and Google.
    I very seriously doubt he said that because it simply isn't true. It could be the way some folks re-phased it and then interpreted it perhaps but not what he actually stated IMO. I don't believe he ever accused Google of selling user information altho if you and others wanted to think that he wasn't going to interfere.
     :D 
    You went from “it simply isn’t true” to “IMO” in the space of a paragraph.  That’s a record, even for you. 

    http://www.itpro.co.uk/data-protection/24736/tim-cook-apple-doesnt-want-your-data

    What does Cook have to say?

    “I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” said Cook. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

    Well, that certainly sounds like a man who doesn’t sell his customers’ data. Do you have any reliable evidence that proves that Apple is selling its customers private info?

    But it does lead to one interesting question:

    Should Apple really be taking billions off Google in return for making their search engine the default on Safari? Apple itself may not be selling not the surfing habits of its customers, but, ignoring the laughable situation of Android users providing some little value that Google has to pay to track someone else's user base,  is it right that Apple provides a paid gateway for Google to track and sell our surfing habits?

    One to ponder I’m sure. 


    Anyway, last week I said that Apple should relax some of its privacy rules because they can gather useful information without flogging it to anyone with an open chequebook. In light of this Facebook screwup, I was clearly wrong: it’s not about me trusting Apple to do the right thing; it’s about Apple not wanting to find itself in a position where it has to ask itself if it has done the right thing. 

    edited March 20 StrangeDaysFolioGG1anton zuykovbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 36
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,276member
    fallenjt said:
    As I have always been suspecting since day 1 I got on FB in early 2000, nothing was free but user information trade off. That's why I kept all personal information offline. My FB account contain only fake info about me: phone number, birthday, home address, employment...whatever. I never trusted FB from day 1 and I'm glad that I didn't.
    Ditto. I have a FB account only because you need to be signed in to see some pages. But they have absolutely no genuine information on me and I'm going to keep it that way.
    Don't be so sure. They collect various information and user data on Facebook members (and reportedly on non-members too?) from most major websites including this one last I checked.  In addition if you have any friends at all they may well have posted a pic or several that include you in them, subsequently tagged and logged as being you.

    And the biggie: They also have sharing agreements with the biggest data aggregator of all, Acxiom who knows exactly who you are: where you live, what you earn, where you shop, what you've purchased, who your children are, where you were born and where your siblings live, the size of your home, where the bedrooms, living room and kitchen are located, what political affiliation you have, the church you attend (if you do), what traffic tickets you ever been given, what insurance claims you've ever made, in some cases what medication you have been prescribed and the doctor you visited, and a plethora of other personal information.  All in all if you have a Facebook account, even one that you imagine is anonymous, they might know exactly who you are despite your best intentions. 
    https://www.acxiom.com/news/acxiom-becomes-audience-data-provider-facebook-marketing-partner-program/
    Foliomuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 20 of 36
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,202member

    fishbert said:
    I love how everyone is up in arms over the faceybook and cambridge analytica... while Equifax slides on by like yesterday's fart in the wind.
    And this will be forgotten just as quickly. 
    anton zuykovdewme
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