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The Cambirdge Analytica Saga is a Scandal of Facebook’s Own Making

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John Harris

This mess was inevitable. Facebook has worked tirelessly to gather as much data on users as it could – and to profit from it

Mark Zuckerberg breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Wed 21 Mar 2018 07.33 EDT Last modified on Sat 24 Mar 2018 22.56 EDT
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Big corporate scandals tend not to come completely out of the blue. As with politicians, accident-prone companies rarely become that way by accident, and a spectacular crisis can often arrive at the end of a long spell of bad decisions and confidence curdling into hubris. So it is with the tale of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, and a saga that vividly highlights the awful mess that the biggest player in billions of online lives has turned into.

Cambridge Analytica may be guilty of hype. But data mining poisons our politics | Gaby Hinsliff

Four days after a story pursued for over a year by my brilliant Observer colleague Carole Cadwalladr burst open, its plot now feels very familiar: in early 2014, 270,000 people did an online “personality test” that appears to have resulted in information about 50 million of their Facebook friends being passed to the nasty and amoral men featured in Channel 4’s secret filming, which would be in contravention of Facebook’s rules about data being used by third parties for commercial purposes. In the second act, Facebook failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the data in question. On Tuesday, as Facebook’s value continued to slide, the plot thickened, with the re-appearance of a whistleblower named Sandy Parakilas, who claimed that hundreds of millions more people were likely to have had similar information harvested by outside companies, and that while he was working for the company between 2011 and 2012, Facebook’s systems for monitoring how such information was used often seemed to barely exist.

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