A couple of observations about this story, three actually. First, It’s frustrating when a story becomes a story only because of the figures associated with it. We know, since they admitted it, that the Obama administration did the same thing. But people seem upset now, because it’s Trump. “On its face, the incident read as confirmation of many people’s worst fears — that the online platforms we live on are manipulating us, using the personal information we provided in good faith without our knowledge. Add to it that one of those many unintended outcomes could have been Donald Trump’s election and you’ve got the makings of a lasting outrage.”
The second thing is that I don’t believe the article when it reads, “…personal information we provided in good faith without our knowledge…” because we all clicked that “okay” button and were presented with the terms of service. That TOS tells us about how Facebook, “…designed our Data Policy to make important disclosures about how you can use Facebook to share with others and how we collect and can use your content and information.” That should be the first clue to people that their information IS going to be shared. That Data Policy says that the information gathered will be used toward the, “…effectiveness and reach of ads and services…”. Pay special note to the word “services”. I have no illusions that Facebook is using my data because I told them they could and they told me they would.
Finally, the article started out life with two slightly different titles that have changed. The first was, “Why Facebook Data Scandal just Won’t Quit” which is still reflected in the URL of the story (why-facebooks-data-scandal-just-wont-quit), then it because a very similar title with just one word changed, Quit, became Die. Finally the one that it had when I posted it. The first two represent something about the nature of modern scandal, it dies, or is meant to die, in just one news cycle and if it doesn’t then it’s a “real” scandal. The fact is, many real scandals have died in the cycle but should have stayed alive, would have stayed alive, had the media willed it. Had they recognized it for what it was and pushed it. They don’t push, if it doesn’t fit what they want to say, or more importantly what they WANT to believe. Not the truth, they aren’t interested so much in that, but rather simply in a narrative of their own design.
It’s only a scandal if the media wants it to be a scandal. If not then it dies with the news cycle. When Obama used Facebook data in his campaign, when Google and Facebook nearly bedded down at the White House, the media lauded it as a clever, smart, a social media savvy move. When the move is on the other side of the aisle they won’t let it die.
Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal has everything: peculiar billionaires, a once-adored startup turned monolith, a political mercenary who resembles a Bond villain and his shadowy psychographic profiling firm, an eccentric whistleblower, millions of profiles worth of leaked Facebook data, Steve Bannon, the Mercers, and — crucially — Donald Trump, and the results of the 2016 presidential election. On its face, the incident read as confirmation of many people’s worst fears — that the online platforms we