Facebook Insider: Covert Data Harvesting Was Routine

The Guardian reports:

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a new whistleblower.

Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, told the Guardian he warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach.

“My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” he said. Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand” and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused.

Talking Points Memo reports:

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) this week to hold a hearing and request documents from voter-profiling firm Cambridge Analytica following reports that the company exploited information from millions of Facebook users without their permission.

According to reports from The New York Times and Observer of London who spoke with a company whistleblower, Cambridge Analytica not only took and misused data from more than 50 million Facebook users, it reportedly used that information to influence users in favor of President Donald Trump’s campaign.

“I believe the Judiciary Committee needs to look into exactly what happened,” Feinstein said. “That’s why I call on Chairman Grassley to join me in seeking testimony from Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, whistleblower Christopher Wylie and Professor Aleksandr Kogan, who reportedly harvested the data from Facebook. I am also hopeful he will support document requests to Cambridge Analytica and Trump campaign officials.”