Obama Harvested Data from Facebook and Bragged About It. Why Are We Only Freaking Out About This Now?

Why are politicians now freaking out about a feature that has been publicly documented since its inception and that was discontinued three years ago?


Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance / dpa/Newscom

Facebook's idiosyncratic approach toward safeguarding the personal information of its users has attracted more political outrage than the company has ever experienced. The American and British legislatures have invited Mark Zuckerberg to visit and be complained at in person, the Federal Trade Commission has let leak an investigation, and German officials are officially vexed.

What irks them is the revelation that a third-party Facebook app masquerading as a personality quiz extracted information that was sold to the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which in turn provided services to Republicans. A short line is being drawn from Facebook data-profiteering to the election, still unfathomable to many Democrats, of some guy named Donald J. Trump.

Given the political leanings at Facebook, it seems unlikely that such an effect was deliberate. In 2016, Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, struggled to find praise sufficiently fulsome to describe Hillary Clinton; in return, Sandberg was imagined as a Clinton Cabinet official. This was approximately the same time as the flap over Trending Topics, during which we learned that Facebook's stable of editors seemed to shun conservative news sites instinctively.

In any event, the joint anti-Zuck strike force being assembled in conference rooms this week in Washington, London, and Berlin seems to be arming for a skirmish that ended years ago.

The history is this: Starting in 2010, third-party developers who convinced a Facebook user to install their apps could vacuum up a tremendous amount of information. The so-called Open Graph API included not only a user's name, birthdate, politics, and religion—private direct messages could be requested too—but also his or her friends' data. You could argue that Facebook's disclosures were insufficiently descriptive. But technically, this wasn't a data leak; users gave consent, however attenuated.

Facebook gave the fields it provided developers names like "friends_religion_politics," "friends_likes," and "friends_photo_video_tags," but a more descriptive term might be "commercially useful information that is certain to be monetized." The user IDs provided were globally unique, kind of a Facebookish Social Security Number, so companies could use multiple apps to correlate and compile cross-referenced profiles by the millions.

The Graph API's features were no secret. They were shouted to the world via press release. At his 2010 announcement at a San Francisco conference, Zuckerberg boasted that developers would now be able to download and retain Facebook data. "We've had this policy where [third-party developers] can't store and cache any data for more than 24 hours, and we're going to go ahead and we're going to get rid of that policy," Zuckerberg said. CNET reported that the audience cheered.

Four years later, Facebook reversed course, saying it had chosen to discontinue those features of the Graph API. The equivalent of a global Facebook-wide identifier would be replaced with application-specific IDs. Friend data would be sharply restricted. The changes took effect in April 2015.

No Senate hearings or congressional investigations convinced Facebook to pull the plug. No flurry of investigative news articles preceded it (there appears to have been not one New York Times or Washington Post article discussing the Graph API in the prior year). No Federal Trade Commission investigation loomed; Facebook had already reached a privacy settlement with the agency in 2011 that altered the Graph API not one whit.

The most likely explanation for the 2014 policy shift is the simplest: The company realized, however belatedly, that even Facebook users want more control over how they share their information. Market pressure (or, perhaps, market dominance and less fear of alienating developers) had closed a privacy loophole. At the F8 conference that year, Zuckerberg said, "We take this really seriously because if people don't have the tools they need to feel comfortable using your apps, then that's bad for them and it's bad for you. But it will prevent people from having good personalized experiences and trying out new things but it also might hurt you and prevent you from getting some new potential customers. So we need to do everything we can to put people first and give people the tools they need to build a sign in and trust your apps."

Today it's almost tempting to feel sorry for Zuckerberg, who must be puzzling over why it took politicians eight years to discover the existence of a feature that has been publicly documented since its inception and was discontinued three years ago.

Zuckerberg must also be contemplating a second oddity. There was no privacy outcry when Barack Obama's 2012 campaign took advantage of the same Graph API to exfiltrate information of tens of millions of Facebook users without each voter's knowledge and consent.

Time.com's report immediately after the election was laudatory. Extracting data from Facebook, it said, "will transform the way campaigns are conducted in the future." It concluded, presciently, that by 2016 the Obama campaign's approach "is almost certain to be the norm."

The Obama campaign's extensive harvesting of social graph data triggered Facebook's internal safeguards, according to an article a year later in The New York Times Magazine. But Facebook allowed it to continue. "It was more like we blew through an alarm that their engineers hadn't planned for or knew about," Will St. Clair, a programmer for the campaign, told the magazine. "They'd sigh and say, 'You can do this as long as you stop doing it on Nov. 7.'"

"We ingested the entire U.S. social graph," Carol Davidsen, director of data integration and media analytics for Obama for America, told The Washington Post this week. "We would ask permission to basically scrape your profile, and also scrape your friends, basically anything that was available to scrape. We scraped it all."

It would be impolite, of course, to accuse the Democratic politicians demanding Zuckerberg's scalp of double standards. Perhaps Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.), who wants to interrogate Zuckerberg in person, has only recently immersed herself in API specifications. Perhaps Sens. Ed Markey (D–Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.), who issued their own demands to Zuckerberg, happened to miss the 2013 article about how the Obama campaign "blew through an alarm." (The inexplicable is not limited to Capitol Hill: A cadre of left-leaning privacy activist groups who remained mum before now believe the Federal Trade Commission should investigate.)

The danger now is regulatory overreach. It's possible to acknowledge that Facebook's original Graph API was leaky—user notification and consent could have been handled far better—while being worried about what Washington officialdom may concoct as suitable punishment for Internet companies. Good laws and sound policy are rarely made during times of moral or partisan panic.

NEXT: Your Friday Cliffhanger: Will Trump Sign or Veto the Omnibus? (UPDATE: Trump Signs)

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  1. To be fair, if it weren’t for double standards, the Democrats would have no standards at all.

    1. To be fair, if it weren’t for double standards, the Democrats politicians would have no standards at all.

      1. I don’t want to smear the honest 5% of Republican politicians by lumping them in with the corrupt 95%.

        1. I bet you can dig and find some democrats with standards. They’re just probably some crazy ass standards.

          1. OK, I imagine you’re right.

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          2. They’re what my country call “backbenchers”, Grayson seems like a stand up Democrat, or even Elliot Spitzer seemed to be a reasonable human being that succumb to a sting based on what he was investigating.

        2. Omnibus

  2. This is really just another page in the silent coup playbook, or alternatively the best case scenario is that the powerful few in America now have more power than the entire electorate combined.

    Neither is really a great look for the country.

    1. You have a problem replacing little red books with little black boxes? What part of the libertarian moment do you not understand?

      1. It just annoys me that Obama does something and the media treat it not only like it’s not a ‘big deal’ but that it’s a great and savvy move right up to the point where a Republican does it, at which point suddenly it’s criminal and suspicious and there needs to be some investigations.

        What’s perhaps even more annoying is that then the government investigates Republicans for something that was literally just done by the Democrats. It’s apparent that there’s more than a little favoritism among the deep state towards a particular party, and it’s not a good look for a Republic.

        I have no problem with Republicans being investigated for things, in fact I think it’s pretty obvious that there are Republicans that need to be investigated *cough*McConnell*cough* but it’s equally clear that Democrats have a get out of jail free card when it comes to shady behavior.

        1. Just more whataboutism from your russian handlers.

          1. Stalin is dead man.

            1. Nah, not dead – just has dentures, wears a skirt and owns a [gasp] winery in California.

              1. I thought he/she/it wears the latest pantsuit fashion from the Mao Zedong collection that we saw throughout the last Presidential campaign.

        2. Our Propaganda Department in the USA that is “respectable” does have a pretty clear bias. Perhaps it was our fault for ever thinking any of these establishments were respectable to begin with and not recognizing them for what they are, propaganda outlets.

        3. I get it.

          The question is not if what Cambridge Analytics tried to do (apparently not very well) with the data they should not have be able to get. But rather, why was the Obama campaign cheered for doing it? And how can you take any criticism from the Democrats or the media seriously when it is not the actions they have a problem with, but rather that their political opponents should not be allowed to do it.

          They were BOTH wrong in my mind.

          1. Well, you see, this is puzzling because the Obama campaign didn’t steal any of the data and they used the data for organising on a grass-roots level rather than micro-targeting users with floods of curated stories, and they didn’t boast on hidden camera that they engaged in blackmail and corruption and entrapment as part of their services. Imagine not getting cheered for doing that stuff. It’s a headscratcher all right. I mean, the formulation’ it’s okay right up until a Republican does it’ ignores the reality of HOW that Republican did it.

  3. Data from FaceSmash is evil.

    Piss dossiers are cool.

    This is known.

  4. Klobuchar, a ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee and former prosecutor, said on CNN’s “New Day” that Zuckerberg “should explain to the American people how this happened, how many people were hurt, and most importantly, how they’re going to fix it.”

    But first Klobuchar, a ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee and former prosecutor, “should explain to the American people how this happened, how many people were hurt, and most importantly, how they’re going to fix it.”

    1. That’s easy. OPM was chronically underfunded so we could give billionaires tax cuts.

    2. Klob…what? The guy is apparently a noodle: fakebook was specifically designed to share data, and worked as designed. What the guy is really asking is how come they haven’t yet figured out to hire smooth fascists like other tech companies have, to purposely misapply policy where persons benefitting are not vetted progs. Not to name companies, but there is another that makes prospective hires run a gauntlet of 3 selection committees to make sure they don’t accidentally let somebody through that won’t tow the line. They don’t get a plurality option: hiring requires going 3 for 3.

      1. Lougle?

    3. Oh, that’s easy.

      1. Facebook created an API that that would harvest *metadata only* about you – metadata is OK, right? When the government harvests it? – and that metadata was shared with partners, including the campaign of former president Obama.

      2. No one was hurt.

      3. We’ve discontinued the program – three years ago – because we’ve realized there’s a Laffer-curve like maximum point of sharing and we had, in our zeal to monetize users, shot way past that to the point that people were clamming up. Now we’re pulling back to get to that peak.

      1. You think that would satisfy the ‘Honorable’ Klobuchar?

  5. Why are politicians now freaking out about a feature that has been publicly documented since its inception and that was discontinued three years ago?

    Because it’s a convenient route for a partisan attack, because they can and nobody will give a fuck who can’t be quickly and effectively ignored.

  6. More to the point, why is Reason coming up with an insecure login on two different operating systems?

  7. Because, as my liberal friends and family will tell you, democrats only do these things out of love and concern for humanity. Republican only do these things out of hatred, blah blah, Hitler something something.

    All I ask for is consistency of reporting and outrage.

    1. I actually was reading that argument last night. From Davidsen’s TED talk where she proudly bragged that the Obama campaign had “captured the entire US social network [Facebook]”, people were saying that Obama’s message was honest, so it was all good.

      1. Oh, yeah. He was sooo honest when he said his would be the most transparent administration ever. Or that he was against getting into wars we don’t need to be in.

        1. The funny thing is, I’m not that upset that the Obama administration did this… what I am upset about is Davidsen’s revelation that Facebook came into her offices and said, “We normally wouldn’t let people do this, but we’re on your side.”

          People lost their fucking minds when Obama was running.

          Facebook is dead to me.

          1. It is well known a Facebook founder worked on Obama’s campaign.

    2. Bad news, General: inconsistency is the hallmark of humanity. The toe stubbing, quibbling, and blazing ignorance shall continue.

  8. “Why are politicians now freaking out about a feature that has been publicly documented since its inception and that was discontinued three years ago?”

    The legacy media ran out of stories concerning how tight Trump’s watchband is, and has to keep feeding the TDS somehow.

    1. It would be pretty tight on a man with larger hands. Just saying.

  9. Kinda big news just broke on the Mueller/Russian investigation probe:

    “Guccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU), The Daily Beast has learned. It’s an attribution that resulted from a fleeting but critical slip-up in GRU tradecraft.

    That forensic determination has substantial implications for the criminal probe into potential collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia. The Daily Beast has learned that the special counsel in that investigation, Robert Mueller, has taken over the probe into Guccifer and brought the FBI agents who worked to track the persona onto his team.

    —-The Daily Beast


    1. Wasn’t the DNC hacking a social hack? Or was the Podesta e-mails a different thing. I can barely remember all this shit.

      1. Podesta hacking was through phishing email. The DNC hacks were done locally, by someone in person. We don’t know who that person was. It wasn’t Guccifer, because A) He couldn’t achieve the transfer speeds that are now publicly known from Romania and B) There is no reason to believe he was in the US when they were taken.

        1. “Your username and password are both ‘password’?”
          “It just seemed easier.”

          1. If your password is ‘password’, kill yourself.
            -Penn Jilette

    2. I read through this article but I am skeptical. So much of this business comes from anonymous leaks without any hard evidence to offer.

      In this case, the article claims that “they” were able to pinpoint a single GRU officer at GRU headquarters because of his IP address. I am dubious.

      1. Skepticism is always hard to argue with, especially when we’re talking about clandestine services investigating each other.

      2. I’ll add to that.

        There are plenty of VPN services around. For a hundred bucks a year, you can make your internet traffic look like it’s coming from any country you want.

        This post, for instance, is coming from South Africa.

      3. This one is coming from Russia.

        1. Woah, you’re fast!

    3. Wait, I thought Guccifer was the one that brought us JayLaw’s titties. The Russians are responsible for that as well?

      1. That was Guccifer 1.0.

        1. So the later version is shittier and less useful? Is Microsoft involved as well?

  10. The problem for Trump comes later in the same article:

    “Trump’s longtime political adviser Roger Stone admitted being in touch with Guccifer over Twitter’s direct messaging service. And in August 2016, Stone published an article on the pro-Trump-friendly Breitbart News calling on his political opponents to “Stop Blaming Russia” for the hack. “I have some news for Hillary and Democrats?I think I’ve got the real culprit,” he wrote. “It doesn’t seem to be the Russians that hacked the DNC, but instead a hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer 2.0.”


    For all we know, Stone may have been duped into thinking it was an American hactivist rather than the Russians. It certainly doesn’t prove that the Trump campaign was collaborating with the Russians to hack the DNC. In fact, the FBI didn’t know Guccifer 2.0 was Russian intelligence until he forgot to log into his VPN before he signed into his U.S. social media account.

    Oh, and I don’t understand why Mueller is incorporating the FBI into his investigative team when he should be investigating the FBI–but that’s probably for another thread.

    1. Guccifer…a cross between “Gucci” and “Lucifer”…a well-dressed demon?

      1. Probably better than Puscifer.

        1. Puscifer rocks, man.

          1. Then imagine how much you’ll like Guccifer.

        2. REV 22:20….

      2. That’s actually kind of a European soccer hooligan thing.

        In the UK, they used to favor Burberry. In Europe, it was others.

        The original idea was that the police might not recognize you as a hooligan if you were well dressed. They always try to keep the known hooligans out of the arena.

        in fact, dressing up to be scary because such a thing that chavs tried to do it–only with knockoffs. I think the hooligans in the UK may have stopped dressing like that because it started to making them conspicuous and they didn’t want to look like chavs.

        Anyway, being a well dressed Lucifer would be soccer hooligan thing in Europe, for sure. And eastern Europe is yuge on soccer hooligans.

        It rings true, in other words, for whatever that’s worth.

        1. I used to laugh at a friend of mine – she loved Burberry and all I could think of whenever I saw it was Scumbag Steve.


    2. Except we know that Guccifer wasn’t the guy who got the information out of the DNC. He may have acted as a go-between, but the information available displays the time stamps and transfer speeds, which could not have been achieved from Romania to the US via a backdoor hack, and would have required physical access in person to the devices containing the data.

      Not that the truth will matter to the witch hunters.

    3. I don’t understand why Mueller is incorporating the FBI into his investigative team when he should be investigating the FBI

      “It’s a trap!”

      1. I don’t know if it’s a trap, but I know that the Pissgate Dossier was compiled by someone who was paid by the DNC and used FBI source material.

        Now the FBI is part of Mueller’s investigation team?!

        Just because something new happens doesn’t mean we have to forget everything we knew before.

        Looks to me like the foxes are guarding the hen house.

        It would be wrong of Trump or Sessions to fire Mueller, but Mueller is bringing the people he’s supposed to be investigating onto his investigation team?

        . . . like seriously?!

        Before this is over, I hope someone appoints an independent counsel to investigate Mueller.

        1. Independent counsels all the way down!

          Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
          And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum.
          And the great fleas, themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
          While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

          /Augustus De Morgan

          1. I thought it was turtles.

    4. So we’re saying that The Daily Beast is better at investigating things than the FBI, since it seems the FBI had no idea who they had until some reporters told them?

      Possible, I’ll admit, but it’s a bit of a black eye for not only our intelligence services but also our domestic law enforcement.

      1. Also, I’d love to know where they got this information. Is this yet another ‘leak’ from the FBI itself?

      2. Paychecks were collected. SWAT teams were utilized. Thank you for your service.

  11. Who is dumber? The democrats, for believing that FB would help deliver them the millennial vote for decades to come, or the few bozos who may have decided to vote for Trump because they saw a Russian troll ad?

    1. Have they found anyone whose vote was changed by a Russian ad?

      1. I mean, they could probably do a cool article – “Russians tricked me into voting for Trump.”

        1. Cue at least the next three years’ worth of weepy Salon.com content.

          1. “Why I’m not a Libertarian anymore. Russians Tricked me Into Voting For Trump”

            1. “Why I’m Not a Libertarian anymore (And Why That’s a Good Thing)”

      2. Hypothetically, I think such people exist. Just like, hypothetically, listening to heavy metal music can turn you into a serial killer.

        1. Or hypothetically, one whiff of secondhand smoke can kill you.

          1. And hypothetically the pen I just dropped on the floor could jump back up onto my desk.

            1. Hypothetically, it could pass through the floor, as both the pen and floor are mostly empty space.

              1. Both correct.

                1. But the explanation of the second wasn’t.

              2. Electromagnetic force, how the fuck does it work?

      3. Have they found anyone whose vote was changed by a Russian ad?

        I’d still like a diagram of the “I knowingly hired someone who may’ve been a secret agent inside the DNC.” information flow and/or criminal felony chain too.

        (Not unlike Trump’s White House) The DNC was a leaky sieve. Seems like every month of the campaign had a video of organizers talking about instigating violence at a Trump rally, CNN contributor handing them debate questions, or their chair calling their own people involved in the primaries ‘damned liars’. Seems like, suddenly, every one of these people should be on the hook criminally as well, like we should be handing out ‘felony whistleblowing’ convictions left and right.

      4. Man, I can’t find anybody who has seen the Russian ads. As narratives go, this one is as vacuous as the “spontaneous” event of Bhengazi that magically drew inspiration from a video I also can’t find an admitted viewer of. On that note, [and observing both D and R parties are stuck on stupid now], I conclude the uniparty is preparing to close shop as somehow “unviable” in order to present the same management under new label, and make it official. Will it look like the PRI? Who knows, but the latest budget deal throws gas on the bonfire prepared for the dollar. We’ve seen hapless speakers led around by the Chamber of Commerce, but Ryan seriously phoned it in while hiding behind the skirt of McConnell the whole way.

    2. The dems get the default vote from me. Because it is apparent that a bunch of their leadership actually did believe this. And on top of that they actually believe that the Russian troll ads swung the election.

      I want to meet 1 legitimate person who can point to any of the “Russian ads” and say: “There! That’s the one that made me realize I had to change my vote from Hillary to Trump.” I don’t think any such people exist.

      1. If you can find me a person that actually voted for Trump based on that picture of Jesus arm-wrestling Satan then I will reconsider my position.

        1. That is actually why I voted for him…..and his hot daughter. Yea, I wanted to look at Ivanka for 4 years more than I wanted to look at Chelsea…….I am a horrible person.

          1. Even as a joke this seems rather vapid.

      2. It was a gradual effect based on many subtle ads, K. Why, the people who changed their minds weren’t even aware of it.

        1. The Ruskies didn’t just hack the election, they literally hacked the minds of American citizens, and compelled them to vote Trump without them even knowing it! Damn human brains and their weak backdoor vulnerabilities!

          1. At least we’ve narrowed it down to the Facebook upgrade.

        2. I probably would have been aware of it, but I was all-consumed with forcing the women in my life not to vote for Hillary. Oops, did I say that out loud?

      3. I really don’t think that the Democrat leadership believes the Russia narrative. They just believe it’s advantageous to continue working on keeping the Democrat constituency angry at Trump.

        1. Yeah, I should have typed that out better. I was lazy.

          I don’t think that their leadership believes it, but their constituents seem to. But their leadership definitely thought that tech giants like FB were going to hand them eternal victory for decades.

        2. Gosh, it sure is awful when cynical politicians gin up controversies and spend months and years “investigating” them, all to bolster their political support. I wonder where Democrats got the idea?

          1. Hahahaha +1

      4. Well, of course, no one is saying that’s what happened. What they’re saying is that this data was used to shape messages, encourage worldviews, and crack constituencies in ways that would benefit Trump and harm Hillary. CA itself extolled a story it pushed on the Clinton Foundation. Serve it up to the right people, make it look like it’s “common knowledge” that she used her position as SoS to benefit the Foundation, then people vote accordingly. Bernie-bros. Swing-state Trumpeteers. Combine that kind of data with the Clinton e-mails, you have a recipe for foreign interference in our elections.

        This line about Russians buying ads is such a common one and based on such a fundamental failure to even understand the topic being discussed that one wonders where it came from.

        1. Yeah, that Clinton Foundation is a great charitable organization, that continues its humanitarian work to this day.

          Oh, wait…

    3. Remember, stupidity is infinite.

  12. Why is everyone missing this point from David Harsanyi’s article from earlier today:

    “But before the general election, the Trump campaign dropped Cambridge Analytica for the Republican National Committee data, reportedly never using the any of the “psychographic” information. According to CBS News, in September 2016, it had “tested the RNC data, and it proved to be vastly more accurate.””

    Trump never used the data, and they found it to be less accurate the material they receive from other sources. End of story.

    1. Who is Number 1

  13. Zuckerberg having a sadz doing the rounds apologizing is hilarious. He knew damn well what was happening under Obama.

    They talk a cocky game about ‘forging alliances’ and ‘preserving democracy’ all for the ‘greater goos (ie their team)’ and then pull a ‘wha happened?’ and ‘Oops, we’re sorry!’ when it’s discovered they weren’t exactly being fair or when caught doing shady things.

    They’re just, as the saying goes, sorry they got caught is all.

  14. But this is just whataboutism, right?

    1. Except it isn’t.

      No one said boo when the other guy did it.

      This guy does it, end of the world. A practice, as I understand it, that’s pretty standard.

      Had the previous person faced criticism or even at the very least garnered some raised eyebrows, then it would be ‘whataboutism’. Except we all know Obama had them all in his crummy hands like cheap crazy glue.

      1. Shoulda used the /sarc tag.

        1. Sarc noted.

    2. whataboutism (n.) def: a word employed by people when their hypocrisy is exposed.

  15. All of this fits perfectly with other prog narratives where there has to be a villain/scapegoat, preferably a multibillion dollar corporation you can shake down and regulate out of existence…

  16. Why Are We Only Freaking Out About This Now?

    Rhetorical, right? We all know the answer to that question.

  17. People put their personal information on a platform whose sole intent is to share your data with others and the company charges nothing but profits by selling that data. Now these same people are outraged and demand the government do something about it. How about using common sense, reading that statement you must agree to upon creating an account.
    If you are not happy with it don’t use it or severely limit what you put on the site. The obvious answer is for some entrepreneur to create a new platform with transparent standards and clear warnings when data will be shared.

    Idiots are their own enemy of privacy, no government regulation will change that.

    1. Again, to me, it’s not so much that the data was retrieved (although I think it’s important for people to know that their data can be pulled, not from direct contact, but indirect contact with other people on your ‘friends list’), it’s that Facebook was gaming their own data retrieval policies to favor a particular political outcome.

  18. The double standard here is type of hypocrisy that is becoming par for the course. I just love how people freak out over Facebook providing information to others as if it should not have been expected. I mean, the main thing that provides a worth for a business like Facebook is literally the information that it has. The information about its users is the most valuable asset of the company.

  19. All the morons that spew their private info across the web via social media get what they deserve.

    1. Sort of.

      If you used a fictitious name, etc, but answered the questions truthfully, you would get the targeted ads.

      This kind of marketing doesn’t rely on me having your private identifiers, only on having your truthful opinions.

  20. King Obama is A FUCKING GOD and can do no Fucking Wrong and if you don’t agree you have the white privilege and are totally fucking racist.

  21. Zuckerberg has the most punchable face.

    1. He looks like Commander Data on STTNG.

      1. That’s an enormous insult to Data.

    2. Given the left has just turned on him for failing to be partisan, expect hollywood parties to come up with the Zuckerberg pinata.

  22. I don’t why exactly why people are freaking out now, but I’ve concluded that we’re at the point that a majority of people in this country need to be institutionalized before they harm themselves or anybody else.

  23. Come on guys… The Obama campaign created a Facebook app for supporters to donate, learn of voting requirements, and find nearby houses to canvass. The app asked users’ permission to scan their photos, friends lists, and news feeds, and most users actually agreed to that..

    The Ted Cruz, John Bolton and Trump Campaigns did something completely different through Cambridge Analytica .. They not only paid tremendous amounts of money to secretly and at least imorally (possibly illegally) data-mine people’s profiles, but turned around and used that information to feed them BS to impact how they perceived issues in order to manipulate their vote towards those campaigns. THAT is a 1984 function and is totally unlike what Obama’s campaign did.

    Why did the author not explain that? Is this article an attempt to do the same as Cambridge Analytica did? At what point does Reason decide that truth no longer has value?

    1. He’s probably paid by RUSSIANS, or the lizard people.

    2. “The Ted Cruz, John Bolton and Trump Campaigns did something completely different through Cambridge Analytica.”

      You honestly think the only things that are done in a campaign are those things that are publicly reported? That Cambridge Analytica were the first people to think of this? Keep drinking the Kool Aid man.

      Amazon does targeted advertisements to convince me to buy some dumb book or watch some show, you believe politicians and their paid cronies are not going to hoover up as much data as possible to create targeted “advertisements” to get someone to vote for them or not vote for their opponent? Get real man.

      And your spin… how is canvassing not someone trying to “feed someone BS to impact how they perceived issues”? Furthermore, their friends data was still accessed without their consent.

      I can go search my name or my parents name or anyone on Google and find way more data than anything I can get from Facebook. I can find out where you have lived, your party affiliation, your work, your phone number, your family, your criminal record, everything. Facebook is some low hanging fruit which is why it was accessed, it was easy. You can bet there are programs crawling the web right now putting together databases with all the information on the web about you so they can target ads to you.

    3. When R’s do propaganda, it’s propaganda; when D’s donit, it’s a ‘newsfeed?’ Am I reading you right?

      What you’re badically saying is: D propaganda is different because it’s true!

  24. But, but Obama’s cool!

  25. Why is debunking the significance of the revelations about CA such a big deal for Reason?

    Whether “Obama did it too” is irrelevant. He did? Oh. Well, maybe we should have worried about it then, too. How does that impact our analysis now?

    To reiterate, CA is/was (i) financed by a rich billionaire who has been coordinating a massive attack on American media and liberal politicians through various obscure PACs and campaigns, (ii) run by the propagandist-in-chief of an upstart right-wing media company, (iii) engaged in various “dirty tricks” to gather and generate opposition research, (iv) led by an individual who apparently lied in hearings before the UK Parliament investigating CA’s activities, (v) closely connected with several Republican politicians’ campaigns, apparently feeding talking points and strategies to Trump, and (vi) apparently assisted in efforts to distribute stories about DNC e-mails hacked by the Russians to gullible audiences in order to inflame conservatives and split liberals against Hillary.

    No big deal? Well, christ, why don’t you just dispense with the formality and allow Putin to choose our politicians for us? If any of you numbskulls thought Hillary’s FusionGPS connection was incriminating, well, this is demonstrably about 10 times as dirty. How many times are you going to revise your apologia to incorporate newly-revealed facts, before it’ll occur to you that you’re being played?

    1. “(vi) apparently assisted in efforts to distribute stories about DNC e-mails hacked by the Russians to gullible audiences in order to inflame conservatives and split liberals against Hillary.”

      So you voted for Trump?
      You seem to be quite gullible.

    2. No big deal? Well, christ, why don’t you just dispense with the formality and allow Putin to choose our politicians for us?

      Well, it’s obvious you are of the progressive persuasion, the kind of person who thinks that American voters are just mindless pawns who can be manipulated. But, you know, the rest of us think that it is perfectly fine for anybody to make whatever arguments they want to the American people, and the American people are smart enough to sort it out. Anybody includes billionaires and foreign heads of state. And given that Hillary had massive amounts of money plus most of Silicon Valley on her side, it turns out that US voters aren’t so easy to manipulate after all, aren’t they?

      If any of you numbskulls thought Hillary’s FusionGPS connection was incriminating

      The one entity that is not permitted to interfere in, or take sides, in US elections is the US government itself. Us numbskulls care about FusionGPS only to the extent that it related to the US government. As a private citizen, Hillary could have published Peegate memos for as long as she desired (and possibly suffer the legal consequences).

    3. “If any of you numbskulls thought Hillary’s FusionGPS connection was incriminating, well, this is demonstrably about 10 times as dirty.”

      It is daft to not expect billion dollar campaigns to go to literally ANY LENGTHS to win. I do not know how many times this has to be proven that this is not a Republican problem or Democrat problem, but something that occurs naturally. People will do literally anything to win, especially when the stakes are as high as the Presidency.

      You bring up CA and I raise you Wasserman-Schultz with the superdelegate fixing against Bernie with the Democrats. Stop being dense.

  26. Obama didn’t just “do this”, Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook ran Obama’s online campaign “blitzkrieg style”. The NYT and USNews ran glowing editorials about how great it was that Obama’s campaign was using all this social media data to persuade Americans to vote the correct way.

    1. “to persuade Americans to vote the correct way.”

      Until it was used in the hopes they’d vote otherwise. How surprising that it then became controversial!

  27. Sheesh, the main purpose of Facebook is for people to publicize themselves, to present their face to the world, to identify. It’s its goddamn name! Why is anybody supposed to be surprised they’re doing the job they purport to do?

  28. Why now?
    Because Millennial’s et al have an attention span that barely reaches back a week or two.

  29. It is clearly time for some commonsense controls on speech.
    Each citizen wishing to exercise the alleged first amendment right to “free speech” will have to obtain a permit before speaking, posting texting, or in any way communicating with one or more other entities. The application must be accompanied by a $100.00 application fee, and a copy of the applicants fingerprints, collected at their expense. The sheriff in the applicant’s county of residence will conduct a background check of the applicant’s criminal records and community standing. The sheriff will have sole authority to accept or deny the application, and there is no appeal process; that decision is final. If the permit is granted, the permit holder may enroll, or “sign up” for one social media site each six months, the total number of accounts not to exceed three. The permit holder must conduct all speech under their full name as shown on the permit.

  30. No, friends did not give consent to have those taking the quiz divulge their personal information. The article you linked to (https:// medium.com/tow-center /the-graph-api-key-points-in-the-facebook- and-cambridge-analytica-debacle-b69fe692d747) has no support from or citation to the then-operative terms and conditions. In any event Facebook users would think it forseeable that they could waive their own privacy in exchange for the free services offered by Facebook. There is no reason to think they would believe their friends could have the power to waive their privacy for every single friend on the quiz-takers list.

  31. You could have answered this question in one sentence:

    Because it involves Trump and not Obama the Great.

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