When President Donald Trump entered office, Twitter was a political tool that had helped get him elected and a digital howitzer that he relished firing. In the years since, he has fully integrated Twitter into the very fabric of his administration, reshaping the nature of the presidency and presidential power. Early on, top aides wanted to restrain the president’s Twitter habit, even considering asking the company to impose a 15-minute delay on Trump’s messages.
Spring 2018, soon after Facebook acknowledged that the data of tens of millions of its users had improperly been obtained by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, a top enforcement official at the Federal Trade Commission drafted a memo about the prospect of disciplining the social network. Lawmakers, consumer advocates and even former commission officials were clamoring for tough action against Facebook, arguing that it had violated an earlier Federal Trade Commission consent decree barring it from misleading users about how their information was shared.
For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules. Facebook's internal records provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.
The alliance between Democrats and Silicon Valley has buckled and bent amid revelations that platforms like Facebook and Twitter allowed hateful speech, Russian propaganda and conservative-leaning “fake news” to flourish. But those tensions burst into open warfare after revelations that Facebook executives had withheld evidence of Russian activity on the platform for far longer than previously disclosed, while employing a Republican-linked opposition research firm to discredit critics and the billionaire George Soros, a major Democratic Party patron.
In just over a decade, Facebook has connected more than 2.2 billion people, a global nation unto itself that reshaped political campaigns, the advertising business and daily life around the world. Along the way, Facebook accumulated one of the largest-ever repositories of personal data, a treasure trove of photos, messages and likes that propelled the company into the Fortune 500.
Facebook failed to closely monitor device makers after granting them access to the personal data of hundreds of millions of people, according to a previously unreported disclosure to Congress. Facebook’s loose oversight of the partnerships was detected by the company’s government-approved privacy monitor in 2013. But it was never revealed to Facebook users, most of whom had not explicitly given the company permission to share their information. Details of those oversight practices were revealed in a letter Facebook sent in Oct 2018 to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
UK's Information Commissioner’s Office Finds Cambridge Analytica and Brexit Financier Misused Private Data
Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which has been investigating the misuse of personal data by political campaigns, found that defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica violated British law when it used improperly harvested Facebook data to aid Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and would face a significant fine if it were not already in bankruptcy.
Apparently, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood subpoenaed more than a dozen telecommunications trade groups, lobbying contractors, and Washington advocacy organizations, seeking to determine whether the groups submitted millions of fraudulent public comments to sway a critical federal decision on internet regulation.
Alastair Mactaggart has became the most improbable, and perhaps the most important, privacy activist in America. Almost by accident, though, Mactaggart had thrust himself into the greatest resource grab of the 21st century. To Silicon Valley, personal information had become a kind of limitless natural deposit, formed in the digital ether by ordinary people as they browsed, used apps and messaged their friends.
As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information. Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said.