18.03.21 Fb Scandal

March 21, 2018
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At Fault Or A Victim?

‘This was a scam a and a fraud.’

Paul Grewal, Facebook VP & lawyer, statement to NYT, March 17, 2018

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Let’s Set The Stage

  • Tech Giants face questions about handling our data responsibly and how they sell or share it with advertisers.
  • Laws haven’t matched pace of technology.
  • $36B wiped away in 1 day as news hit FB stock Monday; CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked to appear before Congress about company’s standards.

Center of Controversy

The Major Players:
(no particular order)

  • Millions of Facebook Users
  • Facebook
  • Cambridge University Professor
  • Firm called “Cambridge Analytica” (not related to University)
  • Wealthy Republican Businessman & his associates.



Psychographic:A mapping a person’s attitudes & interests.

Different than demographics that reflect race, age or gender.

Facebook and online data can be used to create psychographics – to target you as a voter or consumer.

The Professor
Aleksandr KoganA

  • Gathered information from FB app for anA ‘academic project”:A thisisyourdigitallife
  • FB says Kogan violated its policies when he shared data with a private firm: Cambridge Analytica.
  • Kogan’s initial data is from users who downloaded his app but led to some 50M FB users -A NYT.
“About 270,000 people downloaded the app, giving Mr. Kogan access to information such as the cities they lived in, the content they had liked, or information about their friends, Facebook has said”

WSJ, March 20, 2018

The Firm
Cambridge Analytica

  • Major Investor: Robert Mercer, wealthy Republican.
  • NYT describes it as a “shell company”, funneling work to a British company.
  • Helped Donald Trump campaign & other Republicans like Ted Cruz with social media strategy & voter/ad targeting.
  • Tuesday: CEO suspended

What’s The Big Deal?

  • Cambridge Analytica reportedly gave U.S. political strategy work to a British partner firm, owned by a Brit & run by Europeans. It’s illegal for foreigners to interfere in U.S. elections.
  • Some FB users willingly gave data to the professor app that then gave to Cambridge Analytica; others did not. Debatable about what’s illegal versus unethical.

Facebook Says:
Not A Data Breach

“No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked. It’s a serious abuse of our rules.”

Paul Grewal, VP & Facebook deputy general counsel, NYT, March 17, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg has sold nearly $1B worth of FB shares this year. Why?

by Jenna Lee,