Facebook’s stock drops 7% after whistleblower speaks on Cambridge Analytica scandal

A former employee of Cambridge Analytica has revealed new information on the harvesting of Facebook users’ data prior to the 2016 presidential election.


Facebook’s stock dropped by about 7 percent on the morning of March 19 following reports that political advertising firm Cambridge Analytica harvested information on millions of Facebook users without their consent.

Facebook shares fell to as low as $172.20 as of Monday afternoon, reducing Zuckerberg’s fortune by about $3.5 billion in a day.

 

It’s unclear how much damage the scandal could inflict on the social media giant, which has already seen a drop-off in users over the past year.

In 2017, reports outlined how Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to deliver targeted political news and advertisements to U.S. voters during the 2016 presidential election cycle, possibly resulting in a decisive advantage for President Donald Trump. But the recent reports raise new questions about the role Facebook played in protecting user data, and reveal more about the scope and methods the firm used to acquire it.

The revelations were published by The Observer, which based its reporting on testimony and data provided by Christopher Wylie, an analytics expert who worked with Cambridge Analytica.

“We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles,” he told The Guardian. “And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

Here’s Wylie in an interview with The Guardian:

Facebook’s role in harvesting user data

In 2014, a psychologist named Aleksandr Kogan developed an app called thisisyourdigitallife. The app was essentially a personality quiz based on the Big 5 model of personality, which measures the traits openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, and extraversion.

The approximately 32,000 users who took the quiz agreed to the terms of the app, which stated that it would collect basic data about the users and, importantly, the friends in their network. However, the friends of the test-takers didn’t consent to having their data harvested.

Facebook’s “platform policy” allows apps to collect data from app-users’ friends—only if it’s used to improve the experience of the app. Selling or distributing user data to advertisers, however, is prohibited.

As early as 2015, Facebook discovered that Kogan had passed along that trove of user data—which was estimated to include information on anywhere from 30 to 50 million users—to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook removed the quiz app from its platform that year and requested that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica destroy the data.

“I already had,” Wylie said. “But literally all I had to do was tick a box and sign it and send it back, and that was it. Facebook made zero effort to get the data back.”

That seems to be the extent of what Facebook did to remediate the situation.

“That to me was the most astonishing thing,” Wylie said. “They waited two years and did absolutely nothing to check that the data was deleted. All they asked me to do was tick a box on a form and post it back.”

Wylie tweeted on Sunday that Facebook had suspended his account.

“Suspended by Facebook. For blowing the whistle. On something they have known privately for two years.”

On Saturday, Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that it didn’t use data from the personality-quiz app as part of its work in the 2016 presidential election.

On Monday afternoon, the U.K.’s Channel 4 released an exposé on Cambridge Analytica. The data firm had reportedly tried, unsuccessfully, to block its airing.

You can watch it here:

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Calling out Cersei Lannister: Elizabeth Warren reviews Game of Thrones

The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.

Photo credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
  • Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
  • Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
Keep reading Show less

Following sex, some men have unexpected feelings – study

A new study shows that some men's reaction to sex is not what you'd expect, resulting in a condition previously observed in women.

Credit: Pixabay
Sex & Relationships
  • A new study shows men's feelings after sex can be complex.
  • Some men reportedly get sad and upset.
  • The condition affected 41% of men in the study
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Climate change is no longer a financial problem, just a political one.
  • Mitigating climate change by decarbonizing our economy would add trillions of dollars in new investments.
  • Public attitudes toward climate change have shifted steadily in favor of action. Now it's up to elected leaders.