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    How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

    How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

    By MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and CAROLE CADWALLADR MARCH 17, 2018



    Christopher Wylie, who helped found the data firm Cambridge Analytica and worked there until 2014, has described the company as an “arsenal of weapons” in a culture war. CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times



    (After this story was published, Facebook came under harsh criticism from lawmakers in the United States and Britain. Read the latest.)



    LONDON — As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem.


    The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.


    So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.

    An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.



    Both Congress and the British Parliament have questioned Alexander Nix, chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, about the firm’s activities.CreditBryan Bedder/Getty ImagesChristopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge and worked there until late 2014, said of its leaders: “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair.”

    RELATED COVERAGE



    “They want to fight a culture war in America,” he added. “Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.”

    Details of Cambridge’s acquisition and use of Facebook data have surfaced in several accounts since the business began working on the 2016 campaign, setting off a furious debate about the merits of the firm’s so-called psychographic modeling techniques.

    But the full scale of the data leak involving Americans has not been previously disclosed — and Facebook, until now, has not acknowledged it. Interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm’s emails and documents, have revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data but still possesses most or all of the trove.

    Cambridge paid to acquire the personal information through an outside researcher who, Facebook says, claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes.


    During a week of inquiries from The Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the company posted a statement expressing alarm and promising to take action.


    “This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network, said in a statement to The Times earlier on Friday. He added that the company was suspending Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Wylie and the researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties,” Mr. Grewal said.


    Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, and other officials had repeatedly denied obtaining or using Facebook data, most recently during a parliamentary hearing last month. But in a statement to The Times, the company acknowledged that it had acquired the data, though it blamed Mr. Kogan for violating Facebook’s rules and said it had deleted the information as soon as it learned of the problem two years ago.


    In Britain, Cambridge Analytica is facing intertwined investigations by Parliament and government regulators into allegations that it performed illegal work on the “Brexit” campaign. The country has strict privacy laws, and its information commissioner announced on Saturday that she was looking into whether the Facebook data was “illegally acquired and used.”


    In the United States, Mr. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, a board member, Mr. Bannon and Mr. Nix received warnings from their lawyer that it was illegal to employ foreigners in political campaigns, according to company documents and former employees.




    The conservative donor Robert Mercer invested $15 million in Cambridge Analytica, where his daughter Rebekah is a board member.CreditPatrick McMullan, via Getty Images

    Congressional investigators have questioned Mr. Nix about the company’s role in the Trump campaign. And the Justice Department’s special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has demanded the emails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the election.

    While the substance of Mr. Mueller’s interest is a closely guarded secret, documents viewed by The Times indicate that the firm’s British affiliate claims to have worked in Russia and Ukraine. And the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, disclosed in October that Mr. Nix had reached out to him during the campaign in hopes of obtaining private emails belonging to Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.


    The documents also raise new questions about Facebook, which is already grappling with intense criticism over the spread of Russian propaganda and fake news. The data Cambridge collected from profiles, a portion of which was viewed by The Times, included details on users’ identities, friend networks and “likes.” Only a tiny fraction of the users had agreed to release their information to a third party.


    “Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” Mr. Grewal said. “No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”


    Still, he added, “it’s a serious abuse of our rules.”


    Reading Voters’ Minds


    The Bordeaux flowed freely as Mr. Nix and several colleagues sat down for dinner at the Palace Hotel in Manhattan in late 2013, Mr. Wylie recalled in an interview. They had much to celebrate.

    Mr. Nix, a brash salesman, led the small elections division at SCL Group, a political and defense contractor. He had spent much of the year trying to break into the lucrative new world of political data, recruiting Mr. Wylie, then a 24-year-old political operative with ties to veterans of President Obama’s campaigns. Mr. Wylie was interested in using inherent psychological traits to affect voters’ behavior and had assembled a team of psychologists and data scientists, some of them affiliated with Cambridge University.


    The group experimented abroad, including in the Caribbean and Africa, where privacy rules were lax or nonexistent and politicians employing SCL were happy to provide government-held data, former employees said.


    Then a chance meeting brought Mr. Nix into contact with Mr. Bannon, the Breitbart News firebrand who would later become a Trump campaign and White House adviser, and with Mr. Mercer, one of the richest men on earth.


    Mr. Nix and his colleagues courted Mr. Mercer, who believed a sophisticated data company could make him a kingmaker in Republican politics, and his daughter Rebekah, who shared his conservative views. Mr. Bannon was intrigued by the possibility of using personality profiling to shift America’s culture and rewire its politics, recalled Mr. Wylie and other former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements. Mr. Bannon and the Mercers declined to comment.

    Mr. Mercer agreed to help finance a $1.5 million pilot project to poll voters and test psychographic messaging in Virginia’s gubernatorial race in November 2013, where the Republican attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, ran against Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic fund-raiser. Though Mr. Cuccinelli lost, Mr. Mercer committed to moving forward.


    The Mercers wanted results quickly, and more business beckoned. In early 2014, the investor Toby Neugebauer and other wealthy conservatives were preparing to put tens of millions of dollars behind a presidential campaign for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, work that Mr. Nix was eager to win.


    When Mr. Wylie’s colleagues failed to produce a memo explaining their work to Mr. Neugebauer, Mr. Nix castigated them over email.


    “ITS 2 PAGES!! 4 hours work max (or an hour each). What have you all been doing??” he wrote.


    Mr. Wylie’s team had a bigger problem. Building psychographic profiles on a national scale required data the company could not gather without huge expense. Traditional analytics firms used voting records and consumer purchase histories to try to predict political beliefs and voting behavior.


    But those kinds of records were useless for figuring out whether a particular voter was, say, a neurotic introvert, a religious extrovert, a fair-minded liberal or a fan of the occult.

    Those were among the psychological traits the firm claimed would provide a uniquely powerful means of designing political messages.

    Photo

    Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, built an app that helped the firm harvest Facebook data.Mr. Wylie found a solution at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre.

    Researchers there had developed a technique to map personality traits based on what people had liked on Facebook.

    The researchers paid users small sums to take a personality quiz and download an app, which would scrape some private information from their profiles and those of their friends, activity that Facebook permitted at the time. The approach, the scientists said, could reveal more about a person than their parents or romantic partners knew — a claim that has been disputed.


    When the Psychometrics Centre declined to work with the firm, Mr. Wylie found someone who would: Dr. Kogan, who was then a psychology professor at the university and knew of the techniques. Dr. Kogan built his own app and in June 2014 began harvesting data for Cambridge Analytica. The business covered the costs — more than $800,000 — and allowed him to keep a copy for his own research, according to company emails and financial records.


    All he divulged to Facebook, and to users in fine print, was that he was collecting information for academic purposes, the social network said. It did not verify his claim. Dr. Kogan declined to provide details of what happened, citing nondisclosure agreements with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, though he maintained that his program was “a very standard vanilla Facebook app.”


    He ultimately provided over 50 million raw profiles to the firm, Mr. Wylie said, a number confirmed by a company email and a former colleague. Of those, roughly 30 million — a number previously reported by The Intercept — contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles. Only about 270,000 users — those who participated in the survey — had consented to having their data harvested.




    An email from Dr. Kogan to Mr. Wylie describing traits that could be predicted.Mr. Wylie said the Facebook data was “the saving grace” that let his team deliver the models it had promised the Mercers.

    “We wanted as much as we could get,” he acknowledged.

    “Where it came from, who said we could have it — we weren’t really asking.”


    Mr. Nix tells a different story. Appearing before a parliamentary committee last month, he described Dr. Kogan’s contributions as “fruitless.”


    An International Effort


    Just as Dr. Kogan’s efforts were getting underway, Mr. Mercer agreed to invest $15 million in a joint venture with SCL’s elections division. The partners devised a convoluted corporate structure, forming a new American company, owned almost entirely by Mr. Mercer, with a license to the psychographics platform developed by Mr. Wylie’s team, according to company documents. Mr. Bannon, who became a board member and investor, chose the name: Cambridge Analytica.

    The firm was effectively a shell. According to the documents and former employees, any contracts won by Cambridge, originally incorporated in Delaware, would be serviced by London-based SCL and overseen by Mr. Nix, a British citizen who held dual appointments at Cambridge Analytica and SCL. Most SCL employees and contractors were Canadian, like Mr. Wylie, or European.


    But in July 2014, an American election lawyer advising the company, Laurence Levy, warned that the arrangement could violate laws limiting the involvement of foreign nationals in American elections.


    In a memo to Mr. Bannon, Ms. Mercer and Mr. Nix, the lawyer, then at the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, warned that Mr. Nix would have to recuse himself “from substantive management” of any clients involved in United States elections. The data firm would also have to find American citizens or green card holders, Mr. Levy wrote, “to manage the work and decision making functions, relative to campaign messaging and expenditures.”


    In summer and fall 2014, Cambridge Analytica dived into the American midterm elections, mobilizing SCL contractors and employees around the country.

    Few Americans were involved in the work, which included polling, focus groups and message development for the John Bolton Super PAC, conservative groups in Colorado and the campaign of Senator Thom Tillis, the North Carolina Republican.


    Cambridge Analytica, in its statement to The Times, said that all “personnel in strategic roles were U.S. nationals or green card holders.” Mr. Nix “never had any strategic or operational role” in an American election campaign, the company said.


    Whether the company’s American ventures violated election laws would depend on foreign employees’ roles in each campaign, and on whether their work counted as strategic advice under Federal Election Commission rules.


    Cambridge Analytica appears to have exhibited a similar pattern in the 2016 election cycle, when the company worked for the campaigns of Mr. Cruz and then Mr. Trump. While Cambridge hired more Americans to work on the races that year, most of its data scientists were citizens of the United Kingdom or other European countries, according to two former employees.


    Under the guidance of Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s digital director in 2016 and now the campaign manager for his 2020 re-election effort, Cambridge performed a variety of services, former campaign officials said. That included designing target audiences for digital ads and fund-raising appeals, modeling voter turnout, buying $5 million in television ads and determining where Mr. Trump should travel to best drum up support.

    Photo

    The White House advisers Stephen K. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway with Ms. Mercer at the 2017 inauguration.

    The firm helped the Trump campaign target voters.
    Cambridge executives have offered conflicting accounts about the use of psychographic data on the campaign. Mr. Nix has said that the firm’s profiles helped shape Mr. Trump’s strategy — statements disputed by other campaign officials — but also that Cambridge did not have enough time to comprehensively model Trump voters.

    In a BBC interview last December, Mr. Nix said that the Trump efforts drew on “legacy psychographics” built for the Cruz campaign.


    After the Leak


    By early 2015, Mr. Wylie and more than half his original team of about a dozen people had left the company. Most were liberal-leaning, and had grown disenchanted with working on behalf of the hard-right candidates the Mercer family favored.

    Cambridge Analytica, in its statement, said that Mr. Wylie had left to start a rival firm, and that it later took legal action against him to enforce intellectual property claims. It characterized Mr. Wylie and other former “contractors” as engaging in “what is clearly a malicious attempt to hurt the company.”


    Near the end of that year, a report in The Guardian revealed that Cambridge Analytica was using private Facebook data on the Cruz campaign, sending Facebook scrambling. In a statement at the time, Facebook promised that it was “carefully investigating this situation” and would require any company misusing its data to destroy it.


    Facebook verified the leak and — without publicly acknowledging it — sought to secure the information, efforts that continued as recently as August 2016. That month, lawyers for the social network reached out to Cambridge Analytica contractors. “This data was obtained and used without permission,” said a letter that was obtained by the Times. “It cannot be used legitimately in the future and must be deleted immediately.”


    Mr. Grewal, the Facebook deputy general counsel, said in a statement that both Dr. Kogan and “SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica certified to us that they destroyed the data in question.”




    Cambridge Analytica harvested over 50 million Facebook users’ data, one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history.CreditJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

    But copies of the data still remain beyond Facebook’s control.

    The Times viewed a set of raw data from the profiles Cambridge Analytica obtained.


    While Mr. Nix has told lawmakers that the company does not have Facebook data, a former employee said that he had recently seen hundreds of gigabytes on Cambridge servers, and that the files were not encrypted.

    Today, as Cambridge Analytica seeks to expand its business in the United States and overseas, Mr. Nix has mentioned some questionable practices. This January, in undercover footage filmed by Channel 4 News in Britain and viewed by The Times, he boasted of employing front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients around the world, and even suggested ways to entrap politicians in compromising situations.

    All the scrutiny appears to have damaged Cambridge Analytica’s political business. No American campaigns or “super PACs” have yet reported paying the company for work in the 2018 midterms, and it is unclear whether Cambridge will be asked to join Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.


    In the meantime, Mr. Nix is seeking to take psychographics to the commercial advertising market. He has repositioned himself as a guru for the digital ad age — a “Math Man,” he puts it. In the United States last year, a former employee said, Cambridge pitched Mercedes-Benz, MetLife and the brewer AB InBev, but has not signed them on.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/u...-campaign.html

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    Facebook Plunges as Pressure Mounts on Zuckerberg Over Data

    By Sarah Frier
    March 19, 2018, 12:00 AM EDT Updated on March 19, 2018, 3:39 PM EDT


    • Demands follow report that Cambridge Analytica violated rules
    • Lawmakers seek more than ‘false reassurance’ on data safety


    Facebook Inc. shares posted their steepest drop since 2015 as U.S. and European officials demanded answers to reports that a political advertising firm retained information on millions of the social network’s users without their consent.Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are calling on Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to appear before lawmakers to explain how U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica, the data-analysis firm that helped Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency, was able to harvest the personal information.

    Facebook has already testified about how its platform was used by Russian propagandists ahead of the 2016 election, but the company never put Zuckerberg himself in the spotlight with government leaders. The pressure may also foreshadow tougher regulation for the social network.

    U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, have called on the chairman of the Judiciary Committee to bring in technology company CEOs, including from Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, for public questioning.

    In a letter Monday to Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, Klobuchar and Kennedy said they have “serious concern regarding recent reports that data from millions of American was misused in order to influence voters.”

    “The lack of oversight on how data is stored and how political advertisements are sold raises concerns about the integrity of American elections as well as privacy rights,” the senators wrote. A hearing with the CEOs would allow the committee to learn “what is being done to protect Americans’ data and limit abuse of the platforms, as well as to assess what measures should be taken before the next elections.”



    Facebook on Friday said that a professor used Facebook’s log-in tools to get people to sign up for what he claimed was a personality-analysis app he had designed for academic purposes. To take the quiz, 270,000 people gave the app permission to access data via Facebook on themselves and their friends, exposing a network of 50 million people, according to the New York Times. That kind of access was allowed per Facebook’s rules at the time. Afterward, the professor violated Facebook’s terms when he passed along that data to Cambridge Analytica.

    Facebook fell as much as 8.1 percent to $170.06 on Monday in New York, wiping out all of the year’s gains so far. That marked the biggest intraday drop since August 2015.
    (Tuesday was even worse) see Zuckerberg loses https://www.bloomberg.com/search?que...oses+9+billion

    Menlo Park, California-based Facebook no longer allows app developers to ask for access to data on users’ friends. But the improper handling of the data raises systemic questions about how much companies can be trusted to protect personal information, said Nuala O’Connor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology.

    “While the misuse of data is not new, what we now see is how seemingly insignificant information about individuals can be used to decide what information they see and influence viewpoints in profound ways,” O’Connor said in a statement. “Communications technologies have become an essential part of our daily lives, but if we are unable to have control of our data, these technologies control us. For our democracy to thrive, this cannot continue.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/technology
    Last edited by artist; 03-20-2018 at 04:04 PM.

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    Report: Mark Zuckerberg ‘Saved Tens of Millions of Dollars’ by Selling Facebook Stock Before Crash
    Paul Marotta/Getty Images

    by Charlie Nash20 Mar 20181593
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “saved tens of millions of dollars” by selling his Facebook stock before the company’s decline this week.

    “Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg saw his net worth decline by about $5 billion Monday, but it could have been worse,” reported Market Watch on Tuesday. “Ahead of Facebook’s worst one-day decline since 2012, prompted by news that data affecting 51.3 million members was improperly shared with a political consulting firm, Zuckerberg had been busy selling stock. So far this year, he has sold nearly 5 million shares.”

    “Disposing of those Facebook shares before Monday ended up saving about $40 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings and some arithmetic by MarketWatch. At Monday’s close, the 4.9 million shares Zuckerberg has sold this year under a predetermined plan would be worth $855 million,” they continued.

    “Zuckerberg made about $900 million selling those shares, according to calculations using average weighted prices reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.” Zuckerberg’s stock sales were planned transactions on file with the SEC, reportedly to fund his charitable foundation.

    Facebook’s stock declined by almost seven percent on Monday following allegations that the company mishandled user data from the platform.

    The controversy resulted in an emergency meeting with employees of Facebook, the resignation of Facebook’s data security chief, and a pending investigation from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

    http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/0...paign=20180320
    Last edited by artist; 03-20-2018 at 08:15 PM.

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    Never trusted facebook, never joined after reading the privacy statement - join and you are consenting to give them the rights to use your images uploaded- no thank you...Linkedin & many other sites do the same thing but Zuckerberg, I never trusted at all. Now his political views are running the platform. Art organizations say, facebook's algorithms do not help but hinder the arts.

    Former Employee: ‘Horrifying’ Misuse of User Data Was Routine at Facebook


    The Associated Press

    by Charlie Nash20 Mar 20184891
    Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook platform operations manager, claimed the company’s “horrifying” misuse of user data was routine, and that Facebook preferred to have “no idea” what third parties were doing with the freely available data.

    In their report, the Guardian noted that “hundreds of millions of Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica.”


    “My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” claimed Parakilas. “It has been painful watching… Because I know that they could have prevented it.”


    “Once the data left Facebook servers there was not any control, and there was no insight into what was going on,” he continued, adding, “Facebook was in a stronger legal position if it didn’t know about the abuse that was happening.”


    “They felt that it was better not to know. I found that utterly shocking and horrifying,” Parakilas declared, also estimating that “a majority of Facebook users” probably had their data used by third party companies and developers.


    In his interview with the Guardian, Parakilas even claimed that known “rogue developers” were rarely sanctioned for misusing data, and that app developers were encouraged to create apps on the platform by being offered user data by Facebook.


    “In the time I was there, I didn’t see them conduct a single audit of a developer’s systems,” he proclaimed. “Facebook was giving data of people who had not authorised the app themselves, and was relying on terms of service and settings that people didn’t read or understand.”


    “I didn’t feel that the company treated my concerns seriously. I didn’t speak out publicly for years out of self-interest, to be frank,” Parakilas expressed, before adding that the company only started to take action following the media’s allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.


    “They treated it like a PR exercise,” he concluded. “They seemed to be entirely focused on limiting their liability and exposure rather than helping the country address a national security issue.”

    http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/0...e-at-facebook/
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    Facebook Leaves Its Users’ Privacy Vulnerable

    By THE EDITORIAL BOARDMARCH 19, 2018



    Credit Tim Peacock

    Facebook is once again struggling with revelations that manipulative characters exploited the vulnerabilities of its platform during the 2016 election to put Donald Trump in the White House. The company said last week that it was suspending the accounts of Cambridge Analytica, a company that worked for the Trump campaign, and a professor, Aleksandr Kogan, who is said to have deceptively amassed information from more than 50 million people without their consent. That may sound like decisive action, but it came more than two years after Facebook learned of the problem.

    Starting in 2014, Mr. Kogan got the data, using a quiz app, under the guise of academic research. He handed the information to Cambridge Analytica, which used it to build profiles of voters’ personalities, according to reports in The New York Times and The Observer of London on Saturday.

    What is particularly disturbing about this case is that Facebook has not yet identified and alerted users whose profile information was vacuumed up by the app, most of whom had never used it but were friends with somebody else who had. Further, Facebook did not verify that Cambridge Analytica and Mr. Kogan deleted the data after the social media company told them to in 2015. The Times reported that Cambridge still had most or all of the data.

    Facebook’s response so far is reminiscent of its slow, defensive reaction to the spread of pro-Trump fake news on its platform during the 2016 presidential campaign. Days after the election, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said it was a “pretty crazy idea” to suggest that fake news had influenced the outcome. It took months for him to admit that he was wrong to so cavalierly dismiss the importance of hoaxes spread on Facebook, many of them by people working on behalf of the Russian government.

    It is hard to know just how useful the profile information from Facebook was in Cambridge’s effort to help elect Mr. Trump. The company has offered contradictory statements about its use of what’s called “psychographic data” for the campaign, which included targeting political messages to voters receptive to them. The trove contained enough details about roughly 30 million people, including where they lived, that the company was able to build detailed profiles by linking the data to other sources of information.

    Officials in the United States and the European Union are investigating Cambridge Analytica, and others say they might, including members of Congress and the attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey. In Britain, regulators and lawmakers are looking at whether the company tried to illegally influence the “Brexit” referendum of 2016.

    More investigations may be on the way. On Monday, Channel 4 News in Britain released hidden-camera tapes in which Cambridge executives said that their company used bribes and prostitutes to entrap politicians. The company denies engaging in corruption and extortion. Robert Mercer, the hedge fund billionaire who is a big supporter of Mr. Trump, owns a controlling stake in Cambridge, and Stephen Bannon, the former chief strategist for the president, is a former company board member.

    Lawmakers and regulators also ought to investigate Facebook’s response. For starters, they need to take a close look at whether the company is in violation of a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission, which had accused it of deceiving users by telling them their information would be kept private and then allowing it to be shared and made public. They also need to force the company to quickly identify and alert the tens of millions of people whose information might have been disclosed to Cambridge.

    In the longer term, Congress clearly needs to strengthen privacy laws to give people more control over private information and prevent businesses and political campaigns from harvesting personal data under false pretenses. President Barack Obama proposed a privacy bill of rights in 2012, but the idea died in Congress after technology and advertising companies claimed it would be an unfair burden.

    Facebook says it takes this case seriously. But it is clear that lawmakers cannot rely on the company to police itself.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/o...pgtype=article

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    Facebook says asking users about 'sexual pictures' from children was a mistake

    By Ali Breland - 03/05/18 02:52 PM EST 65

    © Getty

    Facebook says that it made a mistake after it asked users in a poll if it should allow child predators to ask children for sexual photos on its platform.

    The odd admission comes after Facebook prompted some of its users with a survey asking about acceptable behaviors on its platform.

    One survey question asked how a user would "handle" a man asking for inappropriate pictures of a young girl if that user was in charge of setting Facebook's policies.
    “There are a wide range of topics and behaviors that appear on Facebook,” one question read, according to screenshots posted by The Guardian. “In thinking about an ideal world where you could set Facebook’s policies, how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures.”

    Users were then given a standard set of answers to pick from ranging from “this content should not be allowed on Facebook, and no one should be able to see it” to “this content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it.”
    A follow-up question in the survey asked users who should be in charge of deciding policies around “an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures,” and gave the option for letting “Facebook users decide the rules by voting.”

    Facebook’s vice president of product, Guy Rosen, tweeted that the company had made an error and that these kinds of actions would always be "completely unacceptable" on the social media platform.

    “We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies. But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on FB,” he explained. “We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn't have been part of this survey. That was a mistake.”

    Facebook said in a statement that it has since stopped the survey and says that this behavior already violates its policies.

    “We sometimes ask for feedback from people about our community standards and the types of content they would find most concerning on Facebook," a company spokesperson said.

    "We understand this survey refers to offensive content that is already prohibited on Facebook and that we have no intention of allowing so have stopped the survey. We have prohibited child grooming on Facebook since our earliest days; we have no intention of changing this and we regularly work with the police to ensure that anyone found acting in such a way is brought to justice."

    http://thehill.com/policy/technology...request-sexual

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    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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